February 19, 2021
By Dale Wilcox
Last December I authored a commentary titled “Under Biden, the Term ‘Illegal Alien’ May Become Illegal.” In it, I predicted that the new administration would move to ban the use of the term “illegal alien” to describe foreign nationals living in the United States in violation of our laws. Given the momentous challenges facing our country and this White House’s audacious objectives, it was reasonable to assume that such a relatively superficial change would be a lower priority and not quickly implemented.
As it turned out, it is high-priority and is already in place. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Acting Director Tracy Renaud has reportedly signed a memo urging “more inclusive language in the agency’s outreach efforts, internal documents and in overall communication with stakeholders, partners, and general public.” While the memo does not have the force of law, it is the first sign that this administration will be aggressive in its mission to change language specified in our laws as a way to implement its extremist anti-borders agenda and embed it into our culture.
What does Acting Director Renaud define as “more inclusive language?” The term “illegal alien” should be replaced with “undocumented noncitizen” or “undocumented individual.” Instead of “assimilation,” USCIS officials should use “integration or civic integration.”
While most Americans will roll their eyes at this exercise as more Big Government political correctness run amok, it no doubt caused the popping of champagne corks at the offices of anti-borders advocacy groups in and around the nation’s capital. The well-heeled and politically connected forces that want to impose a borderless America on the rest of us have long sought to eliminate the term “illegal alien” from the national lexicon. By their logic, faulty as it is, to use the term is to practice otherism, a word which cannot be found in a dictionary but has come to mean the exclusion of people based on their perceived diversions from social norms.
The manifest implication has been made by those on the left that to use the term “illegal alien” is evidence of thinly-veiled nativism and racism, ostracizing a group of people based on their skin color, their language or their place of origin. This is a shameless attempt to achieve political victories by injecting racial invective into an area where it does not and should not exist. It is disgusting, cutthroat politics at its worst.
To refer to someone as an illegal alien is a reference to their legal status, nothing more. Foreign nationals in our country with fair skin and blue eyes who violate our immigration laws are also illegal aliens. They face the same legal consequences as those with different physical characteristics.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), our nation’s immigration law, does not make reference to undocumented noncitizens. Instead, the law expressly uses the term “illegal alien” when referring to a person who has either illegally entered the United States or violated the terms of their admission, such as overstaying a visa. For example, in Title V of The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which added provisions to the INA, there are five references to “illegal alien” alone while the term “undocumented” is not mentioned once.
Last fall we were promised by the left and their allies in the media that a Biden presidency would be a return to normalcy, a restoration of reasonable, moderate leadership. Now the mask has been removed and the truth revealed: an executive all too happy to cede policymaking control to the most radical elements of the progressive left.
This can be seen in numerous decisions, such as hiring anti-borders activist Esther Olavarria to a high-level White House position, have her write policy like the 100-day ban on deportations that is currently suspended under injunction, and then remove evidence of said activist’s authorship. Don’t bother searching for multiple news reports on that situation, as the media has abandoned its investigative traditions when it comes to this administration.
Now that the White House has gotten the ball rolling on reinventing the language of government policy to suit its agenda, look for the most hard-left partisan members of Congress to do the same with the text of our nation’s laws. It’s all meant to normalize lawlessness and disregard for our sovereignty, and to villainize anyone who dares call it out. Absent a vocal, brave and relentless opposition, they will succeed.
Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.
Also published at: Dale Wilcox, Biden Logic: Illegal Aliens Good, ‘Illegal Alien’ Bad, Townhall, February 18, 2021.
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