Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday that he signed a bill to remove the term "alien" from the California labor code to describe foreign-born workers.

Brown signed SB432 by Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia. The new law takes effect next year. Mendoza said removing the term "alien" was an important step toward modernizing California law because it is now commonly considered a derogatory term with very negative connotations.

The state began using the term "alien" in 1937 to describe people who are not born or naturalized citizens in the United States.

In 1970, the Legislature repealed labor code that discriminated against immigrant workers by requiring that citizens be given preferential treatment for employment. However, the term can still be found in other portions of the labor code.

Brown, a Democrat, also approved AB554 by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, to allow high school students who are legal permanent residents to serve as poll workers in California elections. The state already allows adult legal residents to work precincts.

He signed AB560 by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, prohibiting the consideration of a child's immigration status in civil liability cases. The bill came after more than 80 elementary students sued the Los Angeles Unified School District over sexual misconduct by a former teacher at Miramonte Elementary School.