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Asian Americans Advancing Justice Opposes the Nomination of Lee Francis Cissna as USCIS Director

June 13, 2017 News

In April, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Lee Francis Cissna to head the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that oversees immigration to the U.S. After Cissna’s confirmation hearings in late May, major concerns loom over his abilities to lead such an essential government agency.

In response, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice), a national affiliation of five civil rights organizations, releases the following statement:

Advancing Justice opposes the nomination of Lee Francis Cissna as Director of USCIS, a position critical to the integration of immigrants into our country. Mr. Cissna is supported by anti-immigrant organizations such as the Center for Immigration Studies, which seeks to lower overall immigration levels to the U.S. In addition, Cissna lacks the qualifications, fair-mindedness, and compassion needed to ensure that USCIS is a high-functioning and highly effective agency that provides critical services to immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, amongst many others.

The USCIS Director has great power in determining the policies and process for who can enter the U.S. and who can naturalize. Because of the policies of this administration, we are seeing an initial decline in immigration to the U.S., likely with disproportionate impact on people from Muslim-majority countries. Slowing immigration will reduce American economic growth and hinder national security efforts.

In his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cissna admitted that as a private citizen, he provided technical assistance and advice to the Trump transition team in the drafting of the various immigration executive orders. In addition, during his tenure as a detailee for Senator Grassley, he contributed to statements and letters that have undermined policies affecting the most vulnerable individuals who seek protection on our shores, such as putting into question the integrity of the U-Visa program and USCIS’s parole authority. Cissna called for an end to parole for Filipino caregivers of elderly family members, parole for Central American minors, the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program, and advance parole for DACA recipients, among others.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice urge Senators to oppose his nomination and we urge the president to nominate an individual who not only knows immigration laws but who demonstrates the compassion and humanity needed to lead one of the nation’s most vital agencies in serving immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and survivors of violence and trafficking from around the globe. Lee Francis Cissna is not that person.