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Exclusive: New Bill Will Require Library of Congress to Continue Use of 'Illegal Alien' in Subject Headings


"It's a shame that this legislation is necessary in the first place."

(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

While the Library of Congress effectively scrubbed the terms "aliens" and "illegal aliens" from its subject headings last month, legislation set to be introduced Wednesday could change that.

The short bill doesn't require the Library of Congress to unequivocally use the phrases; rather it mandates that the research library "continue using the term 'illegal alien' just as they were previously," Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) told TheBlaze Tuesday.

Tennessee Rep. Diane Black (Image provided to TheBlaze)

"The Librarian of Congress shall retain the headings ‘Aliens’ and ‘Illegal Aliens’ as well as related headings in the Library of Congress Subject Headings in the same manner as the headings were in effect during 2015," the short text of the bill, provided exclusively to the TheBlaze ahead of its introduction, reads.

The Library of Congress deemed the term "illegal alien" — which was also eliminated from the AP Stylebook in 2013 — pejorative in an executive summary of the changes released in March. It was "cancelled and replaced" after an investigation from the library's Policy and Standards Division — an effort that was propelled by Dartmouth College students.

"Calling an illegal immigrant 'illegal' isn’t pejorative; it’s a perfectly accurate description of the actions they took to enter our country unlawfully," Black told TheBlaze in an exclusive statement. "This ill-informed change by the Library of Congress ignores current United States Code, Webster’s Dictionary and common sense. It’s time we stop sanitizing this issue and bending our language to the whims of left-wing special interest groups."

Black's office pointed out that federal code still uses the term "illegal alien" in some places, such as the one that details reimbursement funds for states with incarcerated undocumented people.

"It's a shame that this legislation is necessary in the first place, but Washington bureaucrats need to recognize that illegal immigration is just that — illegal," she continued. "It threatens our jobs, our national security and our sovereignty. If the political class spent half as much time working to actually combat this crisis as they did thinking up politically correct ways to describe these individuals, we wouldn't have this disagreement to begin with." 

The legislation has received the backing of the nonprofit Federation for American Immigration Reform, which circulated a letter to offices on Capitol Hill Monday to drum up support for the bill.

"The Library of Congress’s decision is blatant capitulation to political correctness — replacing the correct term 'illegal alien' with terms that are both factually and legally incorrect," the letter, obtained by TheBlaze, read.

"Simply, it is inappropriate for the Library of Congress to unilaterally replace accurate, legal terms with inaccurate, generalized terms in the name of political correctness," the letter continued.

Black, who has coauthored multiple bills on immigration reform, is expected to roll out the legislation Wednesday afternoon. By Tuesday evening, the bill had eight Republican cosponsors, and Black's office said it expected more by the morning.

Read a copy of discussion draft below.

Follow Kaitlyn Schallhorn (@K_Schallhorn) on Twitter


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