Some State Lawmakers Consider Replacing Immigrant Terms "Alien" and "Illegal"; California, Colorado Made the Change
State lawmakers in at least seven states eyed eliminating the use of terms "alien" and "illegal" in state statutes.
The terms would be replaced with "undocumented" and "noncitizen," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, only two states actually made the change, namely California and Colorado, according to an NBC News report.
Immigrants have argued that the term is dehumanizing, particularly when mixed with "illegal."
They noted that they can have a harmful effect on immigration policy. The word "illegal" has become a point of debate in several states earlier this year as the number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border increase.
Assemblywoman Luz Rivas said that she wants all Californians that are contributing to feel that they are part of the communities in California. Rivas said that the change was prompted as she does not want other migrants to feel the same way she did when she saw the term "alien."
State Sen. Julie Gonzales echoed the same sentiments during a legislative committee hearing.
In Colorado, Gonzales said that the legislation focused on removing the use of "illegal alien" to describe those living in the United States illegally, according to a Wink News report. Gonzales noted that the term has been offensive for several people.
"Illegal" and "Alien" Terms
The term "alien" was first used when the nation's first naturalization law was passed while George Washington was president, according to a U.S. News report.
Congress at the time passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, which was aimed to suppress political subversion over fears of a war with France.
Sage Naumann, a spokesperson for the Colorado Senate Republicans, said that the Democratic-controlled Legislature should be spending its time on matters of deeper importance to residents, including addressing inflation, crime, and improving education.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection mandated its employees in April to stop the use of the word "alien" when filing internal documents or public documentations.
The CBP staff were instead encouraged to use "noncitizen" or "migrant." In addition, "illegal alien" was also to be replaced by descriptions such as "undocumented noncitizen."
The Biden administration has also faced some backlash after its decision to change the policies in the department.
Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott said that it was fine to change the law. However, if it was not the aim, people are politicizing the mission.
Scott is a Trump-era appointee, refusing to sign off the order. Scott believes that his opinion regarding the matter had contributed to him being kicked out of his position in June.
Democrat state Rep. Art Fierro said he expected that there would be a "kickback" when he originally proposed the measure.
A new bill would be introduced in 2023 during the state legislative session, according to Fierro.
This article is owned by Latin Post.
Written by: Mary Webber
WATCH: Sen. Alex Padilla Wants to Eliminate 'Illegal Alien' Term From Books - from NBC Bay Area
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