Word is spreading that federal officials may have banned the phrase “Unaccompanied Alien Children” from the federal lexicon because the term “alien” inappropriately identifies the illegal-immigrant children flooding across the border.
An e-mail received by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, shared with National Review Online, discusses the change.
Instead, the e-mail says federal officials must identify the illegal-immigrant children as “unaccompanied children,” in lower case. The e-mail explains that the order to change the wording was briefed earlier in the day on June 4, 2014, during a “command and staff meeting.”
Attempts to reach ICE officials for comment were unsuccessful.
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, received the forwarded e-mail from an ICE official and estimates that several hundred federal officials, if not more, received the message. She says she recognizes several names on the recipients list, including unit chiefs and others in supervisory or managerial positions.
Activists from groups such as La Raza have long agitated against using language they deem offensive to illegal immigrants, and journalists have been pressured to change their terms by such advocates.
In 2013, the Associated Press Stylebook, a guidebook used by newspapers nationwide, eliminated the term “illegal immigrant” from its pages. “People who were brought into the country as children should not be described as having immigrated illegally,” the stylebook for news reporters reads. “For people granted a temporary right to remain in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, use temporary resident status, with details on the program lower in the story.” The guide also gives this direction: “Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented.”