California has not used the word “alien” to describe foreign nationals in its labor code since 2015, and the federal government is now working to replace “alien” with “noncitizen” in a move that is widely seen as a sign of the Biden administration’s break with the immigration policies of the previous administration. Immigration advocates have long decried “alien” as dehumanizing, and it is believed that changing the word may also change the view some Americans have of immigration.
The Biden administration’s approach to immigration is poised to do far more than simply change the language it uses. Some of these changes will roll back the policies of the previous administration. This includes changes to a policy that did not permit entry from a number of countries that have Muslim majorities and one that required people seeking asylum to wait in Mexico. The Biden administration is also restoring the DACA program.
However, additional steps go above and beyond these rollbacks. For example, there is a plan to raise the number of refugees admitted to 125,000, which is higher than the 110,000-person peak of the Obama administration. The administration also placed a temporary ban on deportations. An immigration reform bill seeks to legalize many undocumented immigrants and make it less difficult for people to get green cards or other permission to live and work in the country by raising or removing quotas and simplifying processes.
In all, these changes signal a significantly new approach to and opportunities for immigration compared to what individuals may have been facing even a few months ago. People who are considering immigration, who have family members considering it, or who are already in the process of getting permission to live and work in the United States may want to contact an attorney about their rights and how their situation might have changed.