ICE Instructed to Stop Using “Illegal Alien” in Terminology

The previous administration had built much of its foundation on the concept of stricter immigration laws and harsher penalties for people who entered the country unlawfully. The Biden Administration is looking to change that image and a good deal of the previous administration’s rules. In a recent announcement, the White House has instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to stop using terms that are widely considered to be disparaging among immigrants.

Two of the most notable changes and why they are being addressed are:

  • “Illegal alien”: The Biden Administration wants ICE and CBP to start using “undocumented migrant” in place of “illegal alien.” The change is meant to dispel the notion that all people who enter the United States without the proper channels are dangerous criminals, which was a frequent talking point in the prior administration. Undocumented migrant puts the attention on the fact that the matter is often a clerical issue more than a criminality issue.

  • “Assimilation”: ICE and CBP should also stop using “assimilation” and say “integration” instead. Assimilation is defined as losing one’s identity to join a larger collective and in a “nondisruptive” way, which implies that undocumented migrants are inherently problematic.

All types of communications from both agencies, as well as United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), should be changed with the new instructions from the Biden Administration. Press releases for the public and interoffice documentation will reflect the immediate changes, for example.

Interestingly, “alien” is used to describe a noncitizen in most of the country’s federal immigration law. Whether or not the laws will get a review for word replacements is not known at this time, but it can probably be expected as the Biden Administration continues to try to distance itself from the controversial policies in the last 4 years.

For more information about this immigration policy update, you can click here to view a full article from The Washington Post. [Log-in or subscription may be required.] If you want help with an immigration case, filing, or concern in Nebraska, then please reach out to Carlson & Burnett today. We would be happy to explore your rights and options as a documented or undocumented migrant. Contact us online to learn more.



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