Saturday, January 29, 2022

Multiple states will stop the use of dehumanizing terms used for immigrants

For Democratic legislator Luz Rivas, the term “alien” meant that her family did not belong in the United States. In immigration terms, it meant that her mother was not a United States citizen, even though they were going through the naturalization process.

The use of the term “alien” has been long opposed by immigrants and immigrant-rights groups alike, as they believe the word, especially when combined with “illegal”, to be dehumanizing.

Recently, Rivas authored a bill, since signed into law, that would replace the word “alien” with terms like “noncitizen” or “immigrant.”

As the number of migrants at the U.S. – Mexico border increased, so did the backlash against the Biden Administration policies by Republican governors and lawmakers, turning the word into a focal point of debate.

Lawmakers in at least seven states considered replacing the use of terms such as “alien” and “illegal” in state statures, with only Colorado and California actually making the change.

In April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection ordered employees to avoid such terms in internal documents and public communications and instead use words like “noncitizen”, “migrant “or “undocumented noncitizen.”

The move was opposed by some, including former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, a Trump Administration appointee.

Research done by the Associated Press suggests that more than a dozen states still use the terms “alien” or “illegal” in statutes referring to immigrants. One of them is Texas, where after a previous failed attempt, Democratic State Rep. Art Fierro, plans to introduce another bill to replace the terms during the state’s next regular legislative session, in 2023.

“We are just trying to treat people humanely,” he concluded.

NBC News