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Democratic congressman introduces measure to abolish the term ‘illegal alien’: ‘Words matter’

Indeed

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) has introduced a bill banning the terms "illegal alien" as well as "alien" from the U.S. government's legal code.

Castro, who is also chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, made the announcement in a Tuesday news release.

What are the details?

Castro — whose twin brother, Julián, is running for president of the United States — said that "words matter" in his news release.

"Words matter," he insisted. "It's vital that we respect the dignity of immigrants fleeing violence and prosecution in our language. The words 'alien' and 'illegal alien' work to demonize and dehumanize the migrant community.

"They should have no place," he continued, "in our government's description of human beings."

Castro's CHANGE Act — or the Correcting Alienating Names in Government Act — proposes to eradicate both "illegal alien" and "alien" throughout the Immigration and Nationality Act, replacing them with the words "foreign national" and "undocumented foreign national."

Castro's statement continued, "Immigrants come to our borders in good faith and work hard for the opportunity to achieve a better life for themselves and their family. Eliminating this language from government expression puts us one step closer to preserving their dignity and ensuring their safety."

The news release adds:

In the midst of our current cultural dynamics, this bill is integral to creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment for incoming and current immigrants living in the United States. America at its core is a nation of immigrants, and throughout the nation's history, immigrants from around the globe have kept our workforce and community vibrant and helped us build the greatest economic engine in the world. It is only right that we respect their place in our history by ensuring that our government documents and legal code respects their place in society as well.

What else?

A June Rasmussen poll found that 26 percent of registered voter respondents considered the phrase "illegal immigrant" offensive. Sixty-one percent of respondents said that it was not a problematic term.

One last thing…
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