The Biden administration is adopting what it calls “inclusive” language to describe illegal immigrants, eschewing the legal term “alien” to describe those who are not citizens.
President Joe Biden has said that his immigration bill, which is expected to be formally introduced in Congress this week, will seek to replace the words “illegal alien” in U.S. laws, according to Fox News.
The word “alien” has peppered laws concerning those who are not American citizens since the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts, but Biden wants to change all that and call illegal immigrants “noncitizens.”
Although siccing the word police on every U.S. law on the books to officially change the texts would take the consent of Congress, the Biden administration is now making the change in how it communicates.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acting Director Tracy Renaud recently issued a memo calling for “more inclusive language in the agency’s outreach efforts, internal documents and in overall communication with stakeholders, partners and the general public,” according to Axios.
The memo suggests some examples, such as using “undocumented noncitizen” or “undocumented individual” rather than “illegal alien” and “integration or civic integration” instead of “assimilation.”
The changes Renaud proposed cannot prevent official documents from using the current language required by law, but will be used in communications within the agency and with the public, according to Buzzfeed News.
Renaud said her agency’s staff can decide “how best to implement” the guidance in her memo.
Robert Law, a former official at USCIS, has said all of this is much ado about nothing.
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“By statute, ‘alien’ literally means a person not a U.S. citizen or national,” he told Axios.
“That is not offensive, and neither is ‘assimilation.’”
“Immigration is a complex issue, but the statutory definition of ‘alien’ is as benign as any word in our laws could possibly be,” he wrote in a blog post for the Center for Immigration Studies.
“The term ‘alien’ is precise, accurate, and in no way offensive. To suggest otherwise is to suspend reality and is not a serious or reasonable position.”
Raymond Partolan, 27, a participant in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that allows children of illegal immigrants to avoid deportation, said the name change is important.
“When we call people aliens we are depriving them of their sense of humanity. Whenever someone uses the word alien it conjures up images of beings that are out of this world,” Partolan told Buzzfeed.
“I would call myself a Filipino American — I want to spend the rest of my life in the U.S., and when the laws classify me as an alien, I see that as an attempt to deprive me of my desire to call this place home,” he said.
“I think words matter.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.