June 23, 2021


equality opinion

Biden seeks to exchange ‘alien’ with a lot less ‘dehumanizing term’ in immigration laws

In a sweeping immigration reform invoice, President Joe Biden proposed taking away the term “alien” from U.S. immigration legislation and changing it with the term “noncitizen,” marking a stark split from the former administration which inspired the use of the term “alien.”

The invoice, which also seeks to supply an 8-12 months route to citizenship to recipients of the Deferred Motion for Childhood Arrivals software, folks with short-term protected status and thousands and thousands of other folks residing in the United States devoid of legal immigration position, “further more acknowledges The us as a country of immigrants,” according to a summary of the legislation produced by the new administration.

Ana Maria Archila, co-govt director of the advocacy group Middle for Well-liked Democracy, said in a statement she applauded “many aspects of the proposed legislation, which includes: the pathway to citizenship,” as properly as “the elimination of the dehumanizing term ‘alien’ from the law.”

Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas, released a identical proposal again in 2015 to take away the phrase “unlawful alien” from federal legal guidelines and switch it with undocumented “foreign nationwide.” The monthly bill would also have ensured that no executive department company uses “alien” or “illegal alien” in signage or literature.

“The term ‘alien’ is utilised as a dehumanizing slur, and should really be taken off from the language in our statutes. This change might seem to be symbolic, but it’s an essential action to restore humanity soon after several years of demonization,” Castro reported in a statement to NBC News.

Numerous officers have justified the use of the time period “alien” by pointing to its prevalence in the U.S. Code, which defines it as “any human being not a citizen or national of the United States.” Previous Legal professional Normal Jeff Classes continuously used the phrase “illegal alien” to refer to undocumented immigrants. Below Sessions’ management, the Division of Justice instructed prosecutors to undertake the phrase “an illegal alien” as a substitute of “undocumented,” CNN reported in 2018.

President Donald Trump also invoked the phrase plenty of instances through his expression. Final 7 days, in the course of just one of his very last speeches prior to leaving the White Household, he used “alien” at least 5 situations when browsing the U.S.-Mexico border.

New York Metropolis and states this kind of as California and Colorado have presently taken measures to remove the term’s use at the community ranges.

California taken off the word “alien” from its labor code in 2015. Two Colorado condition legislators introduced legislation previous year to change “illegal alien” with “undocumented immigrant” as it pertains to general public contracts for solutions. On the other hand, the bill by no means built it to the condition Senate ground for a vote.

New York Town lawmakers banned the use of the terms “alien” and “unlawful” to refer to undocumented immigrants in local guidelines, guidelines and paperwork, NBC New York documented last yr.

Persons in New York Town can also facial area up to $250,000 in fines if they use the conditions “illegal alien” or “illegals” with “intent to demean, humiliate or harass a man or woman” following the city’s Fee on Human Rights issued a legal enforcement guidance in 2019 on discrimination on the foundation of immigration position and national origin.

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