The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS plans to changes all references of the term “foreign national” to “alien” in its policy manual. The move is likely to anger immigration advocates, who have long argued the word “alien” is offensive.
USCIS has defended the move, saying it is designed to align its internal materials with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by using the word “alien” to refer to individuals who are not US citizens.
"It is important that our agency, which administers our nation's lawful immigration system, align our internal materials with the INA," a USCIS spokesperson said.
“Under the INA, ‘alien’ ‘means’ any person not a citizen or national of the United States,” added the spokesperson.
Immigration advocates say this is the latest effort by the agency during the Trump administration to make the legal immigration system unfriendly and inaccessible. “At a time when USCIS faces historic and still-growing backlogs, it’s disturbing that the agency is using its limited resources to carry out what appears to be an anti-immigrant messaging campaign,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council.
In 2018, USCIS removed the phrase “nation of immigrants” from its motto.