Biden’s DHS Set to Reverse Trump Policy Manual Decision and Remove ‘Alien’ to Create a ‘Less Adversarial Tone’ in the Middle of the Southern Border Surge

Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden proposed an immigration bill which would remove the term “alien” from U.S. immigration laws and replacing it with the word “noncitizen,” which marked a stark break from the Trump administration, which encouraged the use of the term “alien.”

The bill, however, has failed to gain the support it needs to pass as is, and seeks to provide an eight-year path to citizenship to recipients of the DACA program, individuals with temporary protected status, and millions of others living in the United States without legal immigration status, “further recognizes America as a nation of immigrants,”.

According to government documents obtained by BuzzFeed News, Biden has found another avenue to try to push his agenda through.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services officials are planning to remove references to immigrants as “aliens” in the agency’s policy manual more than a year after the term was inserted into the guidance during the Trump administration, they reported.

The mentioned that the planned wording change is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to cut down on the use of the term “alien” and alter the way immigrants are described by the federal government and that the move also comes just weeks after agency officials directed leadership to no longer use the terminology in agency communications.

The USCIS is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and describes the United States’ lawful immigration system as “one of the most generous in the world.”

From Buzzfeed News:

The changes, while symbolic, have become the focus of agency leadership for years. Back in 2019, USCIS officials proactively inserted more references to the term into its policy manual, an online collection of its immigration policies, by replacing all references of “foreign national” to “alien” to describe people who are not US citizens.

The policy manual posted online featured more than 800 instances of the term “foreign national” and already had more than 100 references to aliens. The agency underwent a process to change the phrasing in the policy manual, and the term “alien” is currently used more than 1,700 times. Now, officials are looking to replace “alien” with “noncitizen” as much as possible throughout the manual.

Under the Trump administration in 2019, a spokesperson for USCIS defended the change, saying that the agency “proposes to use the legal term in the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

“It is important that our agency, which administers our nation’s lawful immigration system, align our internal materials with the INA,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Under the INA, the term ‘alien’ means ‘any person not a citizen or national of the United States.'”

On Tuesday, an agency spokesperson directed BuzzFeed News to a February memo signed by acting USCIS director Tracy Renaud that urged agency leaders to cut down on the use of the terminology. “This change is designed to encourage more inclusive language in the agency’s outreach efforts, internal documents and in overall communication with stakeholders, partners, and the general public. The guidance does not affect legal, policy or other operational documents, including forms, where using terms (such as applicant, petitioner, etc.) as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act would be the most appropriate,” the spokesperson said.