The Biden Administration has decided that, at least during its tenure, words like “alien” and “illegal alien” will no longer be used when speaking about immigration. Words such as “noncitizen” will be used instead.
According to NBC News, the administration has requested that the terminology be updated at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In a memo to those agencies, the administration said changing the terminology to include “inclusive language” would be a new step in “maintaining the dignity of every individual” they interact with.
“The words we use matter and will serve to further confer that dignity to those in custody,” the memo reads.
NBC News reports that the new guidance on immigration policy should be applied to “internal documents and communications with stakeholders, partners and the general public.”
Other terminology changes include using “noncitizen unaccompanied children” instead of “unaccompanied alien children” and “integration” or “civic integration” instead of “assimilation.” The word “alienage” is also changing to “non-citizenship.”
“These changes are a much-needed shift away from the negative rhetoric weaponized by the previous administration, and a small change that reveals how humanity can be reflected in our immigration policies,” Rep. Nanette Barragán, a Democrat from California, told NBC News.
Rep. Joaquín Castro, a Democrat from Texas, attempted to strike words like “alien” and “illegal alien” from immigration policy back in 2015. He commended the Biden Administration for updating the language, but said the changes needed to be permanent and not just suggestions.
Republicans like Ted Cruz called the move Orwellian.