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JFK’s ‘Nation of Immigrants’ Phrase Removed From US Agency Mission Statement

The federal agency that processes immigrants in the US has erased the iconic phrase “nation of immigrants” from its mission statement, according to the New York Times.  

The decision was announced Thursday in a letter to employees of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services by the agency’s director, L. Francis Cissna, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, the Times reports.

The original phrasing reads: “USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.”

Take Action: Your Words Can Make a Difference. Send a Letter to a Refugee Today.

The updated phrasing reads: “US Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland and honoring our values.”

This revision is symbolic in nature and it reflects the Trump administration’s approach to immigration, NPR notes.

Trump first launched his campaign for president by vilifying Mexican immigrants and calling for a border wall. From that point on, his campaign was marked by hostile rhetoric toward immigrants of all backgrounds, particularly those from Muslim-majority and Latin American countries.

Read More: LGBTQ Refugees Face Unimaginable Trauma, But They’re Rising Up

Upon taking office, Trump signed multiple “travel bans” to halt immigrants and refugees from coming to the US.

He’s eliminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act, restricted refugee quotas, intensified deportation mandates across the country, and pursued other policies that put barriers up to immigrants and refugees.

The USCIS has followed Trump’s lead by changing laws to make it harder for people to apply for asylum, increased scrutiny of worker visas, and made it harder for people to obtain green cards, according to the New York Times.

“We are also responsible for ensuring that those who naturalize are dedicated to this country, share our values, assimilate into our communities, and understand their responsibility to help preserve our freedom and liberty,” Cissna wrote to his employees, according to NPR.

Cissna did not explain why the phrase “nation of immigrants” was removed from the mission statement, but he did say that the revision “clearly defines the agency’s role in our country’s lawful immigration system and the commitment we have to the American people,” the Times reports.

Read More: How One Word Could Change the Makeup of Immigrants in the United States

The deleted phrase was popularized by the book “A Nation of Immigrants” by former US President John F. Kennedy, the Times reports, although its first official use dates back to 1874.

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