Editorial

Government Agency Challenges Immigration Dogma

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Scott Greer Contributor

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is no longer dedicated to securing “America’s promise as a nation of immigrants.”

That’s according to USCIS’s new mission statement, which ditches “nations of immigrants” in favor of “protecting Americans” and upholding “lawful immigration.”

Liberals were greatly alarmed by this change. The left-wing advocacy group Human Rights First called the change “insidious racism.” Bloomberg View issued an editorial asserting that America is a nation of immigrants, and the disappearance of the term from USCIS’s mission statement is an appeasement to President Trump’s nativism.

A former USCIS director, Leon Rodriguez, complained in a Washington Post op-ed that the new mission statement abandons the “the very essence of what has made our country a beacon and an example to the rest of the world.”

Rodriguez believes “[w]e will lose much materially and spiritually if we abandon that heritage” of promoting America as a nation of immigrants.

The critics’ message is that immigrants are what make America, not the citizens who live here. This is America’s heritage — even though this is a phrase you will not find in any founding document. In fact, you won’t find anyone repeating the phrase like gospel until the second half of the 20th century.

“Nation of immigrants” was popularized in large part by a 1958 book with the same name by John F. Kennedy. Kennedy made many of the same arguments immigrant boosters make today in support of liberal migration policies, such as saying every American is an immigrant except for American Indians and citing Emma Lazarus’ Statue of Liberty poem as divine text.

But, just like the Statue of Liberty poem, nation of immigrants is neither law nor found in any document produced by our Founding Fathers.

It would quite be weird to insist “America is a nation of immigrants” to John Jay, who wrote in Federalist No. 2, “that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country, to one united people; a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established their general Liberty and Independence.”

The Founding Fathers thought the people who live in America define the nation’s character, and our national identity is not dependent on a large number of newcomers arriving at our shores every year. Jay and his fellow founders saw America as a nation that owes its existence to the settlers who bequeathed their language, culture and political culture to this new land.

Adhering to the nation of immigrants dogma negates our real heritage and falsely imagines we owe our new nation to whomever is the most recent arrival. According to this belief, we have no inherent identity outside of our commitment to accepting as many immigrants as possible, regardless of the interests and needs of our citizens.

The act of immigration is not what makes someone an American, a falsehood encouraged by accepting “nation of immigrants” as canon. Assimilation into our national fabric is what makes one an American.

It is a positive sign that USCIS is pushing back against this deceptive narrative and putting the interests of Americans first. It’s hard to find what’s wrong in its mission statement.

U.S. 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.

Instead of committing to a recent ideal that no Founder believed in, USCIS makes its mission to uphold what is best for our citizens.

“Nation of immigrants” and the Lazarus poem have both become arguments for open borders and imposing a false identity on America. If we want to keep the “one united people” John Jay spoke of, we have to rid ourselves of the delusions that immigration law is determined by a book title.

As citizens, our interests and needs should always come first when it comes to immigration. Thankfully, USCIS now agrees.

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