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CBP chief says Biden’s ban on term ‘illegal alien’ is illegal

Border Patrol agent Rene Cisneros frisks Tom de Huachac, 33, who allegedly entered the US illegally. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
April 28, 2021

U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney S. Scott wrote in an April 16 agency memo that he could not comply with the Biden administration’s recent directive requiring border and immigration officials stop using the terms “alien, unaccompanied alien children, undocumented alien, illegal alien, and assimilation” when referring to people who have unlawfully entered the United States, and to instead say “non-citizen, non-citizen unaccompanied children, undocumented non-citizen, and civic integration.”

“I will not undermine this effort; however, I cannot endorse it,” Scott wrote, calling it “inconsistent with law,” according to his memo obtained exclusively by Breitbart News on Tuesday.

Scott sent the memo to Troy A. Miller, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In it, Scott reiterated that current immigration law legally defines a foreign national in the United States as an “alien,” and banning the term is not lawful.

“The U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) is and must remain an apolitical federal law enforcement agency. Over the years, many outside forces on both extremes of the political spectrum have intentionally, or unintentionally politicized our agency and our mission,” the memo stated. “Despite every attempt by USBP leadership to ensure that all official messaging remained consistent with law, fact, and evidence, there is no doubt that the reputation of the USBP has suffered because of the many outside voices. Mandating the use of terms which are inconsistent with law has the potential to further erode public trust in our government institutions.”

Scott recommended waiting to make the change until the United States Citizenship Act of 2021 is passed, a measure that seeks to remove the prohibited language from the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The Biden policy went into effect on April 19 despite Scott’s objections. Due to federal law, the policy changes will not impact official reports or legal documents, which must follow the current federal law outlined in Scott’s memo.

“As the nation’s premier law enforcement agency, we set a tone and example for our country and partners across the world,” Miller said in his memo regarding the change, as The Washington Post reported. “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.