California labor laws can no longer use the word "alien" to refer to immigrants
California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill Monday that bans the official use of the word "alien" when describing immigrants in a state labor law.
Senator Tony Mendoza, who proposed the bill, wrote in a statement that "alien" is "commonly considered a derogatory term for a foreign-born person and has very negative connotations."
The bill passed the state senate unanimously and the state assembly 70-1 due to an Orange Country Republican holdout who called the change a "waste of time" and said "changing the word won't change the fact that folks are here illegally."
Facts about terminology referring to unauthorized immigrants:
The term "illegal immigrant" was first used in 1939 as a slur by the British toward Jews entering Palestine without authorization in order to flee from the Nazis. Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel was quoted saying "no human being is illegal".
Professor Kevin R. Johnson, dean of the University of California at Davis School of Law, has said on the topic, “The concept of the alien has … subtle social consequences … [I]t helps to reinforce and strengthen nativist sentiment toward members of new immigrant groups, which in turn influences U.S. responses to immigration and human rights issues.”
The word "alien" first entered US immigration law in the Naturalization Act of 1970, which allowed Congress to naturalize "any Alien being a free White person," so long as they met certain residency requirements, were of "good moral character", and affirmed their support of the US Constitution.
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