The Biden administration has mandated U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to adopt a ‘woke’ approach in their language use, particularly concerning gender pronouns. This directive revealed through an internal memo, instructs agents not to assume an illegal immigrant’s gender identity, emphasizing the use of gender-neutral language and self-identified pronouns and names.
The memo explicitly states that agents should avoid using pronouns such as ‘he, him, she, her’ and traditional salutations like ‘Mr., Mrs., Ms., Sir, Ma’am’ until they have more information about the individual’s preferred identity. This guidance is mainly aimed at interactions with individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, non-binary, and gender non-conforming. The memo also highlights the distinction between gender identity and sexual orientation, noting that transgender people may identify as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
This policy shift comes amid a historic crisis of illegal immigration at the southern U.S. border. Critics, including National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd, have criticized this move as an ‘unnecessary distraction.’ Judd argues that border agents, already overwhelmed by the influx of illegal border crossers, should not be burdened with the additional responsibility of navigating complex gender identity issues. He asserts that this is not a matter of civil rights but rather a preference and that the focus should remain on enforcing the law.
Mike Howell, director of the Oversight Project, which obtained the memo, condemns this guidance as ‘forced speech.’ He criticizes the Biden administration for not only exacerbating chaos at the border but also for imposing a forced-speech program on agents to accommodate illegal aliens’ preferred pronouns. Howell points out that the CBP staff, who primarily interact with migrants and illegal border crossers, are now expected to prioritize language sensitivity over their core duties.
The House Committee on Homeland Security chairman, Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), has also criticized this policy. He views it as an insult to border agents who need practical tools and policies to secure the borders, not manuals on misgendering. Green contrasts the memo’s focus on pronouns with the harsh realities of the border crisis, including the release of criminal illegal aliens and individuals on the terrorist watchlist into the U.S. under DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s watch. He sarcastically notes that Americans might find solace in knowing that agents are trained in the preferred pronouns of these individuals.
Last year, DHS Secretary Mayorkas announced new measures for transgender people traveling, underscoring the Biden administration’s commitment to gender identity policies and respect for individuals regardless of gender identity. However, this recent directive to CBP agents has been met with strong opposition from those who believe it detracts from the primary mission of border security and law enforcement.
The Biden administration’s decision to enforce ‘woke’ language policies among border agents has ignited a fierce debate. Critics argue that this move not only distracts from the critical task of border security but also imposes an ideological agenda on law enforcement officials. This policy, seen as part of a broader ‘woke’ agenda, is viewed by many as a misdirection of priorities at a time when the U.S. faces significant challenges in managing its borders and ensuring national security.