On July 24, the Department of Justice (DOJ) instructed U.S. attorneys in an email to start calling aliens who are in the country illegally “illegal aliens.” Up until this point, some documents from the DOJ would still mention “undocumented immigrants.”
“The word ‘undocumented’ is not based in U.S. code, and should not be used to describe someone’s illegal presence in the country,” the email states.
The email also calls for U.S. citizens or lawfully present residents to be described as just “residents.” Since taking office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not been afraid to use the term “illegal alien.” It makes sense for the DOJ to follow in the footsteps of its leadership and use the correct terminology.
This news broke shortly after the Federation for American Immigration Reform published a report this week titled “Why Illegal Alien is the Correct Term.” The term “illegal alien” was codified into federal law when President Ronald Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986. Meanwhile, “undocumented immigrant” is not found at all in a federal law.
According to the study by FAIR, the term “undocumented immigrant” entered the executive branch in the 1970s when President Jimmy Carter’s administration ordered immigration officials to start using the term instead of “illegal alien.” Popularity of the term has since grown, thanks in large part to wide-spread usage in the mainstream media.
In 2013, the Associated Press Stylebook changed their guidelines to avoid calling any person “illegal.” They recommended the use of “undocumented” instead. Most media outlets follow the AP Stylebook’s guidelines, so they adopted the language.
The open-borders lobby claims that “illegal alien” is a derogatory term, but history suggests otherwise. “Alien” has been used since the 14th century to describe someone who is a foreigner to a nation. Therefore, foreigners who are in a country without authorization are, simply, “illegal aliens.”
Federal law and the judiciary have used “illegal alien” for decades. The term “undocumented immigrant” implies that someone just happened to fall through the cracks of our immigration system and simply needs papers issued to become a lawful resident. Illegal aliens do not legally immigrate into the United States. They either overstay a visa or enter the United States without using the proper channels and following the proper protocol.
The DOJ made the correct decision in ordering U.S. attorneys to use the correct legal term “illegal alien.” The open-borders lobby has weaponized language to change the illegal immigration debate for years, and the DOJ took a big step forward in reclaiming ground in the terminology war.