The Biden administration has issued new guidance on what terms are and aren’t acceptable related to immigration policy. Specifically, the president is ordering U.S. immigration enforcement agencies to change how they talk about immigrants. The old terms “illegal alien” and “assimilation” are no longer to be used, and they will be replaced by “undocumented noncitizen” and “integration.” The new guidance is discussed in some detailed memos sent Monday by the heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, which is part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to roll back the previous administration’s hard-line policies.
The new guidance follows an earlier change in language at U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is the agency in charge of legal immigration. The word “alien” is used throughout U.S. immigration law. But the President is seeking to replace it as part of a sweeping overhaul bill it sent to Congress. The new guidance acknowledges that immigration authorities may still use the term when filling out required forms. But both memos stress that agents and officers should begin using the new terminology in internal communications and external correspondence immediately. Under former President Donald Trump, ICE officers and agents had wide latitude to arrest anyone they encountered living in the country illegally, spreading fear in immigrant communities. The Biden administration has placed sharp new limits on whom ICE can arrest, detain and deport.