California and Colorado this year banned state agencies from using the word “alien” to refer to immigrants who entered the U.S. without permission.
Immigrants and immigrant-rights groups say the term “alien”, especially when combined with “illegal,” is dehumanizing and can have a harmful effect on immigration policy.
The word became a focal point of debate in several states earlier this year as the number of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border swelled and led to fierce backlash against Biden administration policies by Republican governors and lawmakers.
Lawmakers in at least seven states considered eliminating use of “alien” and “illegal” in state statutes this year and replacing them with descriptions such as “undocumented” and “noncitizen,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Only two states, California and Colorado, actually made the change.
“That language has been offensive for many people,” State Sen. Julie Gonzales, who co-sponsored the new Colorado law said. “And some of the rationale behind that is really rooted in this idea that a person can certainly commit an illegal act, but no human being themselves is illegal.”
Source: U.S. News & World Report