The Center for Immigration Studies has been called a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and on Wednesday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Lee Francis Cissna spoke at the organization's annual Immigration Newsmakers event.
CIS is a think tank founded by white nationalist John Tanton, The Daily Beast reports, and it's known for publishing false information on immigration. The group wants to see not only an increase in the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants, but also a reduction in legal immigration. CIS policy director Jessica Vaughan asked Cissna about the Trump administration's hardline approach. "For whatever reason, our authority on enforcement has not been fully exercised in the past," Cissna said. "Well, now it will be. Everything we [do] at the agency should be guided by the law, not any other thing. That's our Bible."
Cissna is the son of a Peruvian immigrant, The Daily Beast reports, and became head of the federal agency in October. He shared why he decided to remove the words "We are a nation of immigrants" from the USCIS mission statement, saying he wanted to "redefine, clarify, what the purpose of the agency is. I looked at the old mission statement and I concluded it didn't really do that. So I started from scratch."
This isn't the first time a Trump administration official has appeared at the event: Before Cissna, Thomas Homan, former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and James McHenry, director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, both attended.