Call them non-citizens, not illegal aliens: Biden chucks migrant naming norms

WION Web Team
WASHINGTON Published: Apr 20, 2021, 01:37 PM(IST)

File photo: A man exits the transit area after clearing immigration and customs on arrival at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, U.S., September 24, 2017. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The change in language comes as the Biden administration deals with a record number of children and teens, mostly from Central America, seeking to enter the U.S. at the southwest border.

The US immigration enforcement agencies have been directed by the Biden administration on Monday to stop referring to migrants as “aliens,” a dated term that many people consider offensive. 

The US govt has declared that words such as "alien" and "illegal alien" are out and "noncitizen" and "integration" are in. 

Also read | US caught a huge number of migrants at Mexico border in March, report says

Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said the directives were necessary to “set a tone and example” at an agency that includes the Border Patrol.

“We enforce our nation’s laws while also maintaining the dignity of every individual with whom we interact,” Miller said. “The words we use matter and will serve to further confer that dignity to those in our custody.”

Administration critics dismissed the new language guidelines.

“We use the term ‘illegal alien’ because they’re here illegally,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas. “This kind of weakness and obsession with political correctness is why we’re having a crisis on the border in the first place.”

As recently as last Thursday, CBP issued a press release out of Texas that described a Border Patrol operation in the Rio Grande Valley "resulting in the apprehension of ten illegal aliens.”

But a release Monday from California seemed to comply with the memo, describing the rescue of a “lost undocumented noncitizen” near Ocotillo, California.

The change in language comes as the Biden administration deals with a record number of children and teens, mostly from Central America, seeking to enter the U.S. at the southwest border.

Under the new guidelines, “unaccompanied alien children” would be referred to as “unaccompanied non-citizen children,” according to the memos. Employees are also directed to describe the “assimilation” of refugees and immigrants as “civic integration.”

CBP is turning away most adult migrants attempting to enter the U.S. under a public health order issued at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the Biden administration is allowing unaccompanied minors and some families to remain, at least temporarily, while authorities determine whether they can stay through the asylum process or under some other legal category.

(With inputs from agencies)

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