Biden orders immigration judges to stop using truthful words


August 5, 2021

By Brian Lonergan

While the Biden administration has spent the last six months demonstrating that it lacks the managerial competence to run a lemonade stand, it is clamping down on language unhelpful to its extremist agenda with the ruthless efficiency of an Amazon distribution facility.

The latest example of this is a White House order to the Department of Justice (DOJ) that our immigration judges will “use language that is consistent with our character as a nation of opportunity and of welcome.” Translation: immigration judges are no longer allowed to use the terms “alien” or “illegal alien” in their legal opinions.

Instead of using those two legally accurate terms for people in the country unlawfully, the DOJ recommends gentler, more politically correct terminology like “respondent, applicant, petitioner, beneficiary, migrant, noncitizen, or non-U.S. citizen.”

To make this order even more preposterous, the DOJ explained that the move was inspired by the Associated Press, which in 2013 instructed its journalist members to refrain from using the term “illegal alien.” Our federal government is now turning to the hyper-partisan, zero-credibility establishment media for guidance on the conduct of our immigration policy. We are truly living in an upside-down world.

This is not the first time that Team Biden has sought to regulate the speech of government employees to conform with its slash-and-burn immigration agenda. In February, the Department of Homeland Security issued a similar ban, also declaring that “alien” and “illegal alien” would no longer be used by its employees for internal or external communications.

There was a time not long ago when obeying the laws of the land was “consistent with our character as a nation.” The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), our nation’s immigration 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.

So why all this effort to soften the language of our government agencies? Given the catastrophe of human suffering and anarchy this administration has caused on our southern border, the DOJ order may seem like a trivial thing. It most certainly is not. The left’s war on language is a vital component of its mission to transform America into something less nightmarish than North Korea, but worse than the crumbling social democracies of Western Europe. So far they have met scant resistance.

Terms like “illegal alien” are problematic for this White House and its fellow travelers, not because they are inaccurate, but specifically because they are accurate. Biden’s anti-borders policies have enabled law-breaking on a tsunami-like scale at our border, and many Americans have a big problem with that. This administration desperately wants to make entering the country illegally seem like a piddling matter unworthy of our attention.   

Rather than stem the flow at the border, the Biden White House would rather treat the American people like the proverbial frog in the slow-boiling pot. When people hear the relentless, considerable drumbeat of news media, entertainment and academia influence to change our language, illegal immigration can start to seem like less of a big deal than it actually is.

By this logic, the waves of migrants at the border are not breaking our laws, they simply lack the proper documentation. If it is no worse than someone committing a parking violation, then why are we holding these people in detention facilities and sending them back home? This is not mere word play, but a cynical strategy to gradually shift public opinion on a highly controversial issue. It is also effective, provided the public is distracted, weary and not willing to fight what is framed as a petty battle over semantics. This is a brazen attempt to normalize illegal immigration.

The one glimmer of hope here is that the anti-borders left, as it is prone to do, is overplaying its hand. The Biden administration acts as though it won a sweeping mandate last fall to undo all the Trump administration success at controlling a messy situation at the border. No such mandate was given. As the disastrous consequences of the current border policy become more evident, it will be harder to play most Americans for fools. Policies and actions matter, but so do even the most innocent-sounding words.  

Brian Lonergan is director of communications 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: Brian Lonergan, Biden orders immigration judges to stop using truthful words, American Greatness, August 5, 2021.

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