The GOP-led House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a plan to require the Library of Congress to describe undocumented people in the United States as “illegal immigrants” -- after the institution earlier this year removed the term “illegal alien” from search terms and cataloging.
The library instead started using the term “noncitizens” and “un-authorized immigration,” a change congressional Democrats defended.
The top Democrat on the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman, argued that the library should “continue with its process of choosing subject headings without political influence.”
In March, the library said the term “illegal alien” had “taken on a pejorative tone in recent years” and that it could in fact refer to those from another planet.
The 25-24 vote Tuesday in favor of Republicans was part of the legislative process regarding the approval of the annual spending bill that funds Congress.
The full measure comes before the House in the next week or two.
The library’s decision to make the change followed a campaign by college students and librarians across the country objecting to the term, which they argued is pejorative.
Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro and several other House Democrats sent a letter to the House’s appropriations committee asking that “illegal alien” be removed from the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill.
Members of the congressional Hispanic, Asian-Pacific and black caucuses signed onto the letter.
Castro introduced a measure last fall to remove the term -- which has been used in U.S. documents since the Naturalization Act of 1790 -- from official United States regulations, laws and documents.
“It’s outdated,” Castro said in an interview with Fox News Latino.
He also has argued such a change is not without precedent, pointing out that the library used the term “negroes,” which then changed to “blacks” and later to “Afro-Americans” and finally to “African Americans.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.