Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022 | 5:14 p.m.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. agency that oversees legal immigration services is reverting its mission statement to refer to the country as “a nation of welcome and possibility."
The new statement unveiled Wednesday by Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur Jaddou is symbolic but somewhat restores previous language after the agency removed a reference in 2018 to the U.S. being a “nation of immigrants."
“This new mission statement reflects the inclusive character of both our country and this agency," Jaddou, whose parents are immigrants from Iraq and Mexico, said in an emailed statement. “The United States is and will remain a welcoming nation that embraces people from across the world who seek family reunification, employment or professional opportunities, and humanitarian protection.”
The change was first reported by CNN.
Immigration advocates applauded the new language and said reframing the mission of the agency was needed.
“The agency is right to reframe its mission and emphasize dignity and fairness," Ali Noorani, president of the National Immigration Forum, said in a statement. "In a nation that depends on immigrants, but where too many are stuck in legal-immigration logjams, the administration must strive to live up to these values.”
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said changing the statement was a “notable step in the right direction.”
Jaddou said the agency asked employees to submit words they felt described their work, and the new mission statement was the result of the feedback it gathered, along with her visions for the agency and the priorities of President Joe Biden's administration.
Before the newest change, the mission statement said the agency was administering “the nation’s lawful immigration system” by “adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”
The Biden administration has received sharp criticism from both the right and the left for the sudden increase in arrival of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and for continuing to expel migrants under a pandemic-related authority first invoked by former President Donald Trump. Under a judge’s order, the federal government also continues to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. court.
But Biden has dropped a Trump-era rule that would have denied green cards to immigrants who use public benefits, abandoned plans for a border wall and eliminated a travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries.