U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro says Congress has been sufficiently sensitive to remove words like “lunatic” and “mentally retarded” from federal law.
Now, Castro says, the time has come to get rid of “alien,” one of the terms that he says “dehumanize and ostracize” people in American society who were born elsewhere.
“Regardless of status, immigrants to our nation are first and foremost human beings,” said Castro, D-San Antonio.
Legislation Castro introduced in the U.S. House this week would change the term “alien” throughout federal law to “foreign national.” The term “illegal alien” would be replaced by “undocumented foreign national.”
Chances of winning passage would seem remote given the brief time remaining in the 2015 session and the protracted inability of Congress to reach agreement on virtually any matter related to immigration.
Nonetheless, the legislation could trigger discussion about attitudes and the circumstances of millions of people, something Castro regards as significant.
“Words matter, particularly in the context of an issue as contentious as immigration,” Castro said in a release.
“Discontinuing our use of the term ‘alien’ will help lessen the prejudice and vitriol that for too long have poisoned our nation’s discussions around immigration reform,” he added.
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