The Biden administration will bar US immigration enforcement agencies from using terms including “alien”, “illegal alien” and “assimilation”, the Washington Post reported.
Respective memos restricting the use of certain words and collocations reportedly sent by the heads of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol (CBP).
Advocates for immigrants point out that the terms are archaic and “dehumanizing”; as “alien” tends to conjure images of fictional creatures in the human imagination, rather than people, and “should be scrapped in favor of a more civil tone”.
The agencies will propose certain substitutes for terms used broadly under the administration of the previous US president, Donald Trump, framing the new proposed usages as a “humanising” of US migration policy, according to the edition.
“As the nation’s premier law enforcement agency, we set a tone and example for our country and partners across the world. We enforce our nation’s laws while also maintaining the dignity of every individual with whom we interact. The words we use matter and will serve to further confer that dignity to those in our custody”, said acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller.
The word “alien”, for example, will reportedly be replaced by the phrase “noncitizens or migrants", while "illegal" will become "undocumented" and “integration” will be used to refer to what was previously described as “assimilation”.
Biden proposed eliminating the term "alien", which, according to Robert Law, a former Trump administration official, is not offensive by statute, from federal immigration legislation in the citizenship bill he sent to Congress as soon as he was sworn in.
The White House stated that replacing “alien” with “noncitizen” desirably portrays the United States as “a nation of immigrants” — a phrase the Trump administration deleted from the mission statement of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2018.
Rounding off his third month in office, US President Joe Biden is facing criticism for his handling of the surge of undocumented immigrants at the border, with several smuggling incidents reported at the US southern border with Mexico.