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ICE ends use of 'alien' in references to child immigrants

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illegal immigrant children Getty Images/Omar Torres

Immigration and Customs Enforcement will no longer use the word “alien” in its references to illegal immigrant minors who have been apprehended without their parents at the U.S. border, according to an internal agency email.

The children have commonly been referred to as “unaccompanied alien children,” or “UACs.” With the new directive, laid out in a June 4 email, both terms will be dropped and replaced with “unaccompanied children.”

“This was briefed earlier today during he [sic] command and staff meeting,” reads the email, which was forwarded to reporters by the Center for Immigration Studies.

“It has been requested that in correspondence regarding unaccompanied children, They [sic] not be referred to as UACs,” the email reads.

“The appropriate messaging on documents should be using the term: unaccompanied children.”

As National Review Online noted, the White House issued a June 2 memo, “Response to the Influx of Unaccompanied Alien Children Across the Southwest Border.”

Since June 4, documents released by ICE and by the Department of Homeland Security have referred to the child immigrants as “unaccompanied children,” leaving out “alien,” which some consider derogatory.

Between October 2013 and June 15, 52,000 UACs have been apprehended at the U.S. border. Most are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. They are being housed in temporary facilities in the U.S. The surge has led to a debate over whether President Barack Obama’s immigration polices have induced immigrants to come to the U.S., or whether conditions in the immigrants’ home countries have pushed them here.

ICE could not be reached for comment.

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