The Biden administration has instructed Department of Homeland Security officials to use more “inclusive language” to describe people residing in the country illegally, such as dropping the word “alien” and replacing it with “noncitizen,” according to a memo recently issued by immigration authorities.
The changes are reportedly part of an effort by the Biden administration to portray itself as more welcoming on immigration than the previous administration under President Trump, which would use terms such as “illegal aliens” to describe people who bypassed U.S. laws and security perimeters to enter and remain in the country.
According to Axios, an email sent Tuesday to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials described how the agency’s acting director, Tracy Renaud, had signed a memo encouraging “more inclusive language in the agency’s outreach efforts, internal documents and in overall communication with stakeholders, partners and the general public.”
The memo, obtained by BuzzFeed News, instructed officials to stop referring to people as “illegal alien,” “alien,” or “undocumented alien” in internal and external communications, but instead use the terms “noncitizen,” “undocumented noncitizen,” or “undocumented individual.”
It also urged USCIS officials to discontinue their use of the term “assimilation” in exchange for “integration” and begin referring to those who apply for benefits like green cards as “customers,” BuzzFeed reported. USCIS is a subsidiary agency which operates within the DHS.
Interestingly, besides planned use in the agency’s internal communications and any communications it has with the public, the wording changes are not set to affect forms or operational documents where using the previous terminology is deemed most appropriate. That fact indicates the changes are nothing more than a messaging makeover. Though, by continuing to soften language associated with illegal immigration, the administration undoubtedly hopes to move public opinion on the matter toward greater acceptance of illegal entry and favor for open borders.
The words being replaced in the agency’s messaging are in fact the most accurate technical terms to describe issues at hand. Even BuzzFeed acknowledges that the term “alien” is routinely found within U.S. Code and is “regularly referenced in the immigration system and in court rulings to describe everyone who is not a US citizen.”
Speaking with Axios, Robert Law, a former Trump administration official who now works at the Center for Immigration Studies, noted, “By statute, ‘alien’ literally means a person not a U.S. citizen or national.”