Feb 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden to use "more inclusive" immigration terms

President Joe Biden sitting on a chair wearing a mask
Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration is urging officials to use more inclusive terms for immigrants, including replacing the word "alien" with "noncitizen," Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Trump administration referred to unauthorized immigrants as "illegal aliens" and described border crossings as an "invasion." The new terms point to President Biden's more welcoming immigration stance overall.

  • According to an email sent Tuesday to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials, reviewed by Axios, acting director Tracy Renaud recently signed a memo encouraging the "more inclusive language in the agency's outreach efforts, internal documents and in overall communication with stakeholders, partners and the general public."
  • A DHS spokesperson did not immediately respond to calls and an email seeking comment.

Between the lines: Other changes include using "undocumented noncitizen" or "undocumented individual" rather than "illegal alien" and "integration or civic integration" instead of "assimilation."

  • Immigration advocates will likely applaud the changes.
  • Hardliners will not.
  • "By statute, 'alien' literally means a person not a U.S. citizen or national. That is not offensive, and neither is 'assimilation,'" said Robert Law, a former Trump administration official now working at the restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies.
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