The heads of the two U.S. immigration enforcement agencies were directed by the Biden administration to use words such as “noncitizen” and “integration” instead of “alien” and “assimilation” as part of its effort to use immigration terms seen as more humane, according to memos obtained first by The Washington Post.
Troy Miller and Tae Johnson, the acting heads of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on Monday issued separate memos to staff detailing the new changes regarding the use of certain immigration terms in internal and external communications, such as public statements.
Instead of “alien,” the memos instruct employees of both agencies to use “migrant” or “noncitizen”; “undocumented” rather than “illegal”; and “integration” instead of “assimilation,” according to The Post. The memos also tell CBP and ICE employees to use “noncitizenship” instead of “alienage”.
Advocates have long called for the retirement of these terms, which they argue are dehumanizing to the people they describe, and the adoption of a more civil tone.
“As the nation’s premier law enforcement agency, we set a tone and example for our country and partners across the world,” CBP’s 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’s Johnson spoke similarly in his memo, saying, “In response to the vision set by the Administration, ICE will ensure agency communications use the preferred terminology and inclusive language.”
Officials, according to The Post, said the changes take effect immediately. The officials also acknowledge that they may need to use the terms in “legal or operational documents,” such as when filling out required forms.
MORE ON THE BORDER: Biden calls border surge a ‘crisis’ for the first time
Among those classified as noncitizens, according to the newspaper, are immigrants who are in the United States illegally, as well as millions of legal permanent residents—also known as green-card holders—and visitors arriving on work and tourist visas.
These changes come amid a record-breaking number of migrants—especially thousands of unaccompanied children—illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border over the past few months, as well as the resulting crisis that has seen overcrowded migrant detention facilities with poor accommodations.
MORE ON THE BORDER: Sara Carter: The border crisis is ‘astounding’
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.
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DHS Secretary Mayorkas Says We Cannot Remove ‘11 Million Undocumented Individuals’ Unlawfully in U.S.
Troubling details were unearthed during the questioning of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas by the Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Grassley asked Mayorkas about a DHS memo from September 30 which reads: “The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen will not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them.”
“Does that reasoning apply to the [1.2] million illegal immigrants who have received due process and been given a final order of removal by an immigration judge?” Grassley asked Mayorkas.
“We cannot remove 1.2 million individuals, nor can we remove more than 11 million undocumented individuals, individuals who are unlawfully present in the United States, who might not have final orders of removal” Mayorkas answered.
Mayorkas also stated that he had issued the due process policy after drawing on “tremendous experience not only as a member of the Department of Homeland Security but as a federal prosecutor.”
Grassley pressed Mayorkas, asking, “should any of them be removed?”
“Of course,” Mayorkas said. “I do believe that individuals who pose a public safety threat, who pose a national security threat, who pose a border security threat, should be removed, and we should be smart and effective in our use of resources, and we should focus on the well-being of our communities and prioritize individuals for removal.”
In his opening statements, Grassley addressed Mayorkas and stated, “When you allow the ACLU and open-borders immigration activists rather than career law enforcement professionals to dictate the terms of your immigration and border policies, then you shouldn’t be surprised when record-shattering numbers of people start showing up at the border to take advantage of that.”
Grassley continued, “When you run DHS like it’s an ‘Abolish ICE’ fan club, you shouldn’t be surprised when you have an illegal immigration crisis on your hands.”
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