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Biden, in State of the Union, uses term for illegal immigrants that his DHS warned against in 2021

President Biden during the State of the Union address used the term "illegal" to describe illegal immigrants, something his DHS had previously warned against.

During his State of the Union address Thursday, President Biden referred to the alleged killer of Georgia student Laken Riley as "an illegal" — but the term is in contrast to guidance from his Department of Homeland Security, which had told staff to stop using terms like "illegal alien."

Biden was heckled by Republican lawmakers to say the name of Laken Riley, who was allegedly murdered by a Venezuelan illegal immigrant last month in Georgia. Republicans have cited the death as a consequence of the border crisis, which they blame on Biden policies. Biden in turn used the address to restate his calls for Congress to pass a bipartisan border bill.

But Biden picked up a button with Riley’s name on it that lawmakers had been given out and made reference to her — although he misstated her first name.

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION URGES DHS OFFICIALS TO STOP USING ‘ILLEGAL ALIEN’ IN FAVOR OF ‘INCLUSIVE’ LANGUAGE

"Lincoln Riley [sic]," he said. "An innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal, that’s right."

The use of the term "illegal," even in reference to an alleged illegal immigrant murderer, rankled some Democrats.

"Let me be clear: No human being is illegal," said Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., on X, formerly known as Twitter.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS ZERO IN ON BORDER CHAOS WITH VIDEO SERIES ON ‘FACES OF BIDEN’S STATE OF THE UNION IN CRISIS'

"As a proud immigrant, I'm extremely disappointed to hear President Biden use the word ‘illegal,’" Rep. Chuy Garcia, D-Ill., said.

Many on the left have, for years, urged against the use of the term "illegal" to refer to illegal immigrants, claiming it is dehumanizing, preferring terms like "undocumented" or simply just calling them immigrants. 

It’s also a term that the Biden administration itself has warned against using. In 2021, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) memo urged officials to refer to "undocumented individual" or "undocumented noncitizen" rather than "illegal alien." 

"This change is designed to encourage more inclusive language in the agency’s outreach efforts, internal documents and in overall communication with stakeholders, partners, and the general public," a spokesperson said at the time. "The guidance does not affect legal, policy or other operational documents, including forms, where using terms (such as applicant, petitioner, etc.) as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act would be the most appropriate."

Since then, "undocumented noncitizen" is commonly used to refer to illegal immigrants in DHS press releases. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will also often refer to those "unlawfully present" in the country.

On Thursday, Biden focused more on urging Congress to pass the bipartisan border agreement, which includes staffing, funding and a mechanism to stop entries into the U.S. when it exceeds an average of 5,000 a day. But conservatives have said the mechanism normalizes already high levels of illegal immigration and that Biden can fix the border himself.

"Look folks, it's been a simple choice," Biden said. "We can fight about fixing the border or we can fix it. I'm ready to fix it. Send me the border bill now."

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