By Chris Enloe
There may be a growing humanitarian crisis at the southern United States border, but President Joe Biden and his administration are reportedly more concerned with the optics of language like "illegal alien."
What are the details?
The Biden administration on Monday ordered Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the government agencies tasked with managing immigration, to abandon terms the administration believes are inhumane, the Washington Post reported.
The language changes include:
"Alien" will become "noncitizen or migrant"
"Illegal" will become "undocumented"
"Assimilation" will become "integration"
The changes are necessary, according to top CBP official Troy Miller, to protect the dignity of immigrants.
"As the nation's premier law enforcement agency, we set a tone and example for our country and partners across the world," Miller said in a memo outlining the changes. "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."
"In response to the vision set by the Administration, ICE will ensure agency communications use the preferred terminology and inclusive language," acting ICE director Tae Johnson said in her own memo, the Post reported.
What does US law say?
In fact, officials acknowledged that legal documents would still require the use of terms the Biden administration wants to prohibit, the Post noted.
From the Post:
In the past, officials and some federal judges have defended using "alien" because it is the official definition of noncitizen in federal laws. Officials acknowledge that officials may need to use the terms in "legal or operational documents," such as when filling out required forms.
What about the border crisis?
Despite the fact that a full-blown humanitarian crisis remains ongoing at the U.S.-Mexico border, Biden's administration still refuses to acknowledge the crisis.
The White House is so averse to the optics of a "crisis" that after Biden called the border situation a "crisis" over the weekend, a White House official clarified Monday the official position of the Biden administration, in fact, is that a crisis is not happening.
"No, there is no change in position. Children coming to our border seeking refuge from violence, economic hardships and other dire circumstances is not a crisis," the administration official told CNN.
Author: Chris Enloe