U.S. Rep. Lujan Grisham Co-Sponsors Bill To Remove Term ‘Alien’ From Federal Immigration Law

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham is co-sponsoring legislation that would remove the term “alien,” as an outdated way to refer to immigrants in federal law.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Joaquin Castro, would replace the term with “foreign national.”

“This term is outdated and unnecessary in this day and age,” Lujan Grisham said. “Worse, we’ve seen how these terms are used to demean and devalue human beings for political purposes. We should be an inclusive society that treats and welcomes all people with respect.”

The legislation also would replace “illegal alien” in federal law with “undocumented foreign national.” In addition, the bill would ensure the offensive terms would no longer show up in government signs and brochures.

Current law uses the term “alien” to describe a person who is not a citizen or national of the United States. This language has been included in U.S. code since the Naturalization Act of 1790. Since that time though, the term has taken on a highly negative connotation. 

Precedent exists for this type of terminology reform. For example, the law has been changed to strike terms such as “lunatic” (21st Century Language Act) and “mentally retarded” (Rosa’s Law) from statute.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the National Immigration Forum have offered their support for the CHANGE Act.