President Joe Biden’s administration ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to stop using the terms “illegal alien,” “alien,” and “assimilation” when referring to those who enter the United States unlawfully.
According to internal memos delivered to agency leaders and viewed by The Washington Post, the administration said the terms must be replaced with “noncitizen or migrant,” “undocumented” and “integration.”
“As the nation’s premier law enforcement agency, we set a tone and example for our country and partners across the world,” CBP official Troy Miller said in his memo. “We enforce our nation’s laws while also maintaining the dignity of every individual with whom we interact. The words we use matter and will serve to further confer that dignity to those in our custody.”
ICE acting director Tae Johnson communicated a similar message in a separate memo, saying, “In response to the vision set by the Administration, ICE will ensure agency communications use the preferred terminology and inclusive language.”
According to Fox News, a source familiar with changes said top officials at the Department of Homeland Security had been pressuring the Biden administration to make the language adjustments for weeks leading up to the new policy.
During his first day in office, Biden suggested policy changes such as this could be implemented under his leadership.
“The policy of my Administration is to protect national and border security, address the humanitarian challenges at the southern border, and ensure public health and safety,” Biden said in an executive order.
“We must also adhere to due process of law as we safeguard the dignity and well-being of all families and communities. My Administration will reset the policies and practices for enforcing civil immigration laws to align enforcement with these values and priorities,” he continued.
Over the weekend, Biden referred to the surge of illegal immigrants at the border as a “crisis,” a designation that has been avoided by administration officials for months.
“We’re going to increase the number [of refugees],” he told reporters. “The problem was that the refugee part was working on the crisis that ended up on the border with young people. We couldn’t do two things at once. But now we are going to increase the number.”
Biden’s remarks come following backlash over the administration’s initial decision not to increase the number of refugees accepted in the United States.