The terms “arriving alien” or “alien” are somewhat controversial and politically fueled verbiage. However, these terms are considered legal terminology in the United States Code of Federal Regulations.
However, aliens do not often refer to themselves as “alien” and generally call themselves foreign nationals. For example, “I am an Indian national” is typical for someone originally from India who has not been fully naturalized.
First, let us better understand the working definition of the term “arriving alien”.
What is Considered an Arriving Alien?
According to the United States Code of Federal Regulations, the term “arriving alien” refers to the following:
“An applicant for admission coming or attempting to come into the United States ata port-of-entry, or an alien seeking transit through the United States at aport-of-entry, or an alien interdicted in international or United States waters and brought into the United States by any means, whether or not to a designated port-of-entry, and regardless of the means of transport. An arriving alien remains an arriving alien even if paroled pursuant to section 212(d)(5) of the Act, and even after any such parole is terminated or revoked. However, an arriving alien who was paroled into the United States before April 1, 1997, or who was paroled into the United States on or after April 1, 1997, pursuant to a grant of advance parole which the alien applied for and obtained in the United States prior to the alien’s departure from and return to the United States, will not be treated, solely by reason of that grant of parole, as an arriving alien under section 235(b)(1)(A)(i) of the Act.”
Simply put, an “alien” refers to an individual that is a noncitizen, an illegal immigrant, or an undocumented immigrant. Although this includes residents and temporary residents, even a lawful permanent citizen is still considered an alien and is not considered a citizen until fully naturalized.
Dropping the Term “Arriving Alien”
While the term “arriving alien” is still located in government code, recently, some U.S. immigration judges, agencies, states, and more have worked to put an end to this dividing verbiage.
In fact, in April of 2021, Troy Miller, the Acting Head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, stated:
“We enforce our nation’s laws while also maintaining the dignity of every individual with whom we interact. The words we use matter and will serve to further confer that dignity to those in our custody.”Troy Miller
Miller states this in a memo that mentions the term “alien” will be replaced with words like “noncitizen” or “migrant”. While “illegal alien” will be replaced with “undocumented noncitizen” or “undocumented individual,” and “assimilation” will change to “integration.”
While the term is used today, even in government bodies, changes to a respectful language that is universally accepted are in the works.
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