WASHINGTON (AP) – Employees of the two main US immigration control agencies were urged on Monday to stop calling migrants “foreigners,” an outdated term that many people consider offensive.
Memos issued by customs and border protection services, as well as immigration and customs services, instruct employees to use the words “non-citizen” or “migrant”. The change reflects guidelines set by the Biden administration, which is reversing many of the anti-immigrant policies of former President Donald Trump.
Instead of “illegal aliens”, which were still used by some government officials in press releases and elsewhere, CBP and ICE employees should instead use “undocumented non-citizen” or “undocumented person”. , according to memos.
Acting CBP commissioner Troy Miller said the guidance was needed to “set the tone and set an example” for an agency that includes border patrol.
“We enforce the laws of our nation while preserving the dignity of every individual we interact with,” Miller said. “The words we use are important and will serve to further confer that dignity on those in our care.”
Critics of the administration have rejected the new language guidelines.
“We use the term ‘illegal alien’ because they are here illegally,” said Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas. “This kind of weakness and obsession with political correctness is the reason we are going through a crisis at the border.”
As recently as Thursday, CBP issued a press release from Texas describing a border patrol operation in the Rio Grande Valley “resulting in the arrest of ten illegal aliens.”
But a statement Monday appeared to comply with the memo, describing the rescue of an “lost undocumented non-citizen” near Ocotillo, Calif.
The language change comes as the Biden administration is processing a record number of children and adolescents, mostly from Central America, seeking entry into the United States through the southwest border.
Under the new guidelines, “unaccompanied foreign children” would be referred to as “unaccompanied non-citizen children,” according to the memos. Employees should also describe the “assimilation” of refugees and immigrants as “civic integration”.
CBP denies most adult migrants who attempt to enter the United States 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 stay, at least temporarily, while authorities determine whether they can stay during the asylum process or under some other legal category.
Officials in the Biden administration attribute the growing number of migrants at the southwestern border to a number of factors, including two recent hurricanes that hit Central America and the economic devastation of COVID-19 in the region.
Critics blame the administration’s moves to reverse some of the hundreds of measures taken under President Donald Trump to curb legal and illegal immigration and support legislation that would allow some already in the country to stay.
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