Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott has informed the head of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that he will not endorse a new language policy that would see the agency stop using terms like “illegal alien” in favor of terms such as “undocumented migrant,” Fox News confirmed Wednesday.
In an April 16 memo addressed to acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller, Scott expressed his “official nonconcurrence to the proposed updated terminology for U.S. Customs and Border Protection communication and materials.”
“I will not undermine this effort; however I cannot endorse it,” he said in the memo first reported by Breitbart Texas and confirmed by Fox News.
A CBP spokesperson separately told Fox News the agency “does not comment on materials purported to be leaked internal memos.”
The Biden administration earlier this month instructed CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to make several changes on terminology relating to immigration:
- “Alien” will now be “noncitizen” or “migrant.”
- “Alienage” will be changed to “noncitizenship.”
- “Unaccompanied alien children” will be “noncitizen unaccompanied children.”
- “Undocumented alien” and “illegal alien” will be “undocumented noncitizen, undocumented individual or migrant.”
- “Assimilation” will be “integration or civil integration.”
- “Immigrant assimilation” will be “immigrant integration.”
President Biden on his first day in office hinted that changes like this could be on the way.
“The policy of my Administration is to protect national and border security, address the humanitarian challenges at the southern border, and ensure public health and safety,” read a Biden executive order.
“We must also adhere to due process of law as we safeguard the dignity and well-being of all families and communities. My administration will reset the policies and practices for enforcing civil immigration laws to align enforcement with these values and priorities,” it continued.
But the policy has seen pushback from critics who say that the terminology is out of step with U.S. law and seeks to blur the reality of illegal immigration. Terms such as “undocumented” have long been the preferred language of immigration activists who call for liberal border policies to legalize illegal immigrants and oppose restrictions.
In his memo, Scott said Border Patrol must remain apolitical, despite forces seeking to politicize it “on both extremes of the political spectrum” and warns that “mandating the use of terms which are inconsistent with law has the potential to further erode public trust in our government institutions.”
Scott also warned about workforce morale, specifically the willingness of officers to take personal risks every day.
“There are countless human capital studies which indicate that mission criticality and support from leadership affect the willingness of personnel to comply with policy and professional standards,” he wrote.
He urged Miller to delay the changes in language until the U.S. Citizenship Act – which would change the official language in the U.S. Code – is enacted. However, that legislation likely faces a tough road to passage and seems unlikely to gain the 10 Republican votes it needs to pass in the Senate.
Fox News’ John Roberts and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.