Where Words Matter: Democrats Move Quickly to Re-Label 'Amnesty' Forgiveness as 'Pathway to Citizenship'

Homeland Security Agents ordered not to use the terms “illegal” or “alien”

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Texas Insider Report) — Now firmly in control of the levers of political power in Washington, D.C., Congressional Democrats are moving to change the terms of the immigration dabate – literally. At the Department of Homeland Security, for instance, agents have now been ordered to stop using the terms “alien” and “illegal alien”, replacing them with words like “undocumented” and “noncitizen.”

The term ‘illegal alien’ is dehumanizing, even if it is found and has long been used in Federal Code, it is said.

That is the idea behind the change at the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement's (ICE) division of Homeland Security Investigations, where agents have been ordered not to use the terms “illegal” or “alien.”

But the nomenclature is having a tough time breaking through. Even those who have bought into the new terminology still struggle with carrying it out.

Some Homeland Security Investigations agents are still filing court documents referring to aliens, often abbreviated to UDAs, for “Undocumented Aliens.”

The first thing newly minted Senator Alex Padilla did after he was granted the gavel at the Senate’s key subcommittee handling immigration matters, was to change the committee's name, nixing “Border Security”, and replacing it with “Border Safety.”

Mr. Padilla, who took the California seat of now-Vice President Kamala Harris and whose parents are Mexican immigrants, said changing the subcommittee's name was part of his push to “restore dignity and humanity to our immigration policies.”

And across the Capitol his companion in the House, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (left) – also a California Democrat – deleted the phrase “legal and illegal” from her subcommittee’s rules and replaced it with “authorized and unauthorized.” Ms. Lofgren, insisted her change in the subcommittee’s rules was about precision, not about making a political statement.

As a precursor to another attempt at "Immigration Reform," the California Democrats and immigrant advocates are moving quickly and literally to change the words and terms of the immigration debate – particularly thode considered to have negative connotations.

Neither Republicans – nor their fellow Democrats – have bought into the explanations.
  “Words do matter, and they matter more when they’re negative, dehumanizing and cruel. I think that’s what these words do,” said Rep. Sylvia Garcia, Texas Democrat.

She was countered by her fellow Texan, Republican Cong. Chip Roy: “This is all semantic B.S.”

Democrats hope that rewriting the terms is a precursor to another attempt to enact legislation legalizing most illegal immigrants. President Biden announced his plan yesterday, and has submitted his ideas for a bill to be considered by Congress, when and if the circulating draft language is ever completed.

Immigrant Rights Advocates say Words Used are Important

“Name changes matter because policymakers have a responsibility to model and set the tone for language and behavior in a rational, functional society,” said Katie Adams, policy advocate at United Church of Christ, who said the words are only a beginning and Congress must deliver on substantive changes.
 
“There are miles to go in policymaking spaces – for instance, delinking immigration with the Department of Homeland Security – so that when we talk about immigration, the lens is through creating an equitable and welcoming society rather than suspicion and control,” she said.

“But this is a start. Words matter.”

Senator Padilla’s move to change the name of the Senate subcommittee has not sparked an outcry from Sen. John Cornyn, the Texan who serves as ranking Republican. But in the House, Ms. Lofgren’s move to change “illegal” to “unauthorized” met with howls from her panel’s Republican members.
 
Rep. Tom McClintock, California Republican, read from the Federal Law that makes it a misdemeanor for an “alien” to enter the United States without going through an official crossing, by evading detection, or by entering under false pretenses.

“To blur this distinction is an insult to legal immigrants – and an encouragement to those who flagrantly disregard our laws and disrespect the sovereignty of our nation,” McClintock said.

Ms. Lofgren says she's reviewed the entire 1952-passed Immigration & Nationality Act, and is determined to “clean up the language.”

Debates over terms and wording in the immigration debate have raged for decades, and with a Biden White House coupled with Democrat control of Congress, advocates are anxious to make more headway in getting newspapers and politicians to change their verbiage.

It’s not clear how much these changes will pervade the broader debate. Even on Capitol Hill, few members of Congress even know the exact names of numerous Congressional Committee's or Subcommittees with jurisdiction of the multi-facited issue.

But new research shows that Americans intuitively understand the words “undocumented,” “illegal” and “unauthorized” all refer to someone who is in the country without permission, or is at least here without having gone through the typical – though virtually unworkable and broken – immigration system.

In terms of gathering support to pass legislative changes, let alone making changes via President Biden's "Executive Order" mandates, Democrats and immigration advocates are clearly adopting a new strategy to change the words, phrases and terminology that's used during public debate.

Where terms matter most, perhaps, will likely be in how the general public continues to view those in the country illegally – and being impacted by the nation's devisive policies.

Labeling forgiveness as “amnesty” conjures up a different impression when compared to a “pathway to citizenship,” regardless of what is currently written into the law.

Nonetheless, while Immigration & Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Investigation Agents adjust to calling them by the new abbreviation of “Undocumented Non-Citizens,” or UDNCs, even they still had to use the term "alien" in court documents to describe the crime which they were investigating: "Alien Smuggling."
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