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Citizenship Agency Stops Calling US 'Nation of Immigrants'

FILE - A newly naturalized U.S. citizen leaves a swearing in ceremony in Los Angeles, U.S., July 18, 2017.

The U.S. agency that handles residency and citizenship applications this week stopped referring to the United States as a "nation of immigrants" in its mission statement, a change that prompted raised eyebrows in Washington.

The revised mission statement, first reported on Thursday, was noted in a letter from the director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to agency employees as a change to "guide us in the years ahead."

The beginning of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services mission statement, as recently as Wednesday, read:

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.

The statement now reads:

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.

USCIS says the new wording was developed by director L. Francis Cissna, who said it clearly defines the agency's role and makes clear who it serves.

President Donald Trump came into office on a platform of intense changes to the US immigration system. In the last year, his administration has made several decisions that have already altered who is allowed into the country, and dismantled the previous administration's system of prioritizing which immigrants are at risk for deportation.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, countered news of the change with a tweet: