A pair of memos from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) provide guidance to the respective DHS bureaus on "the preferred use of immigration terminology within the federal government. The Administration’s view is also reflected in the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which President Biden sent to Congress on January 20, 2021."

  • ICE memo from Tae Johnson (April 19, 2021)
  • CBP memo from Troy Miller (April 19, 2021)

The memos include this table of Terminology Changes:

Previous New
Alien Noncitizen or migrant
Alienage Noncitizenship
Unaccompanied alien children Noncitizen unaccompanied children
Undocumented alien Undocumented noncitizen,undocumented individual, migrant
Illegal alien Undocumented noncitizen, undocumented individual, migrant
Assimilation Integration or civic integration
Immigrant assimilation Immigrant integration

The memos direct offices to use the preferred terminology in "communications such as agency outreach efforts, internal documents, and overall communications with stakeholders, partners and the general public." However, DHS will continue to use "applicable terms defined in the Immigration Nationality Act in legal or operational documents, including when completing required forms, particularly where legally required or necessary" to ensure procedural rights of the individuals whom DHS encounters.