According to a new report from Axios, the Biden administration is pushing for federal officials to use kinder, more “inclusive terms” when describing illegal aliens. For instance, don’t use the term “illegal aliens.”
The Biden administration is urging officials to use more inclusive terms for immigrants, including replacing the word “alien” with “noncitizen,” Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The Trump administration referred to unauthorized immigrants as “illegal aliens” and described border crossings as an “invasion.” The new terms point to President Biden’s more welcoming immigration stance overall.
According to an email sent Tuesday to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials, reviewed by Axios, acting director Tracy Renaud recently signed a memo encouraging the “more inclusive language in the agency’s outreach efforts, internal documents and in overall communication with stakeholders, partners and the general public.”
The site reports that other term-switches will include using “undocumented individual” instead of “undocumented alien.” Officials will also be asked to use “integration or civic integration” instead of “assimilation.”
The crusade to change the language surrounding illegal immigration certainly didn’t begin with Biden. Last year, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) introduced a bill that would have made similar language changes to the most significant immigrant legislation on the books.
But it is certainly a shift from the Trump administration. In 2018, the Justice Department under Jeff Sessions sent a memo to prosecutors reminding them to use language consistent with the law.
“The word ‘undocumented’ is not based in US code and should not be used to describe someone’s illegal presence in the country,” the email said at the time.
And, let’s face it, both sides are doing it for the same reason: They know that language matters. Calling someone an illegal alien gives you a great deal of information about their presence in the country. First and foremost, it lets you know that they broke the law to come here and that they are, in many real respects, a criminal. Second, it lets you know that they don’t belong here. Those are excellent principles upon which to enforce the law, even if they aren’t the most nicey-nice terms you can find in the dictionary.
By contrast, a term like “undocumented individual” tells you almost nothing. It sounds like a paperwork oversight. You might use it to describe your Aunt Martha, who made it all the way to the airport before remembering she left her passport at home in a dresser.
When you make these kinds of language shifts, the “real” shift – the one to actually legalize these aliens and throw open the borders – becomes so much easier.