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Archived from our former blog, The Beacon.

Director Mayorkas - Our Work Touches the Lives of Many

Release Date:

(in Spanish)

About twenty years ago I visited my great aunt and uncle in their apartment in Brooklyn where they had settled after emigrating from Cuba. They had prepared a sandwich for me wrapped in a neatly-cut square of wax paper. After lunch my great aunt took the wax-paper square, ironed the creases with her hand, and placed the flattened square on a stack of wax paper squares resting atop her refrigerator. My great aunt and uncle understood the value of each cent and the struggle it took to earn it.

As I have embarked upon my tenure as the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services I have carried my memory of the wax paper squares as a strong reminder that our Agency is funded mostly by the hard-earned fees that immigrants pay us. Our Agency is, as a result, ethically obligated to spend this money with extraordinary care and in the service of the immigrants and others whom we serve. This care and this service - together with our commitment to integrity, consistency, and transparency - are values that guide our Agency as we administer the largest immigration system in the world.

In giving life to our nation's immigration laws, we must look at our work and its impact through the eyes of the public we serve, including immigrants yearning to build a better life for their families, businesses in need of specialized skills that are unavailable here, individuals seeking refuge from home-country conditions that no person should have to endure, and the general public. Our work touches the lives of many and helps build a strong foundation for our nation, one that carries forward our tradition as a nation of immigrants while fulfilling our responsibility to protect the integrity of our system and the security of our homeland.

As we open our arms to those who rightfully see our nation as a beacon of hope and opportunity, so too must we as an agency open our doors and be transparent to those with an interest in our mission. We will not shrink from criticism but instead work hard not to deserve it; we will recognize our failures and use them as instructive steps to future success; and, we will build upon our achievements to become the agency of which our nation can be most proud. You deserve this, and so do my colleagues.

I came to this country in 1960, my family having fled Cuba so that my sister and I, and later my brothers, could realize the promise of democracy. I am forever mindful of the journey we made and the challenges it involved. The wax paper atop my great aunt's refrigerator is a lasting symbol, one that guides me as we at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services make the journey possible for others and help define our nation in that spirit.

Alejandro Mayorkas
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Department of Homeland Security

UPDATE: For more, check out this video of Director Alejandro Majorkas speaking before the Migration Policy Institute.