The Biden administration is urging U.S. immigration officials to cease using the term “illegal alien,” in a bid to use more “inclusive” language.
USCIS employees should consider using “more inclusive language in the agency’s outreach efforts, internal documents and in overall communication with stakeholders, partners and the general public,” the memo states. The memo recommends using the terms “undocumented noncitizen” or “undocumented individual” in place of “illegal alien,” and “integration or civic integration” in place of “assimilation.”
The term “alien” is found throughout U.S. law code, however the state of California enacted an order striking the word from its code in 2015.
“By statute, ‘alien’ literally means a person not a U.S. citizen or national. That is not offensive, and neither is ‘assimilation,'” said Robert Law, a former Trump administration official now working at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates more restrictive immigration policies.
The change comes as President Biden is attempting to craft an overhaul of Trump-administration immigration restrictions. Biden said in January that he would propose an eight-year path to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently residing in the U.S.
Illegal border crossings from Mexico into the U.S. rose in January, and more migrant families have made their way north from Central America in the wake of two hurricanes and other issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.