In a growing trend across the U.S., Colorado is moving toward burying the term “illegal alien.”
The state House of Representatives voted in favor of stopping use of the controversial term in favor of undocumented person or foreign national, according to the Denver Post.
The force behind the measure, Rep. Steve Lebsock, says “illegal alien” is simply “outdated and hurtful language.”
"Aliens are from other planets," said Lebsock, a Democrat. "We should not be referring to human beings as aliens."
House Bill 1396 next will go to the state Senate, where it may face more of an uphill battle.
Democrats have a majority in the House, Republicans have a majority in the Senate.
In the House, 12 of the chamber’s 31 Republicans voted with Democrats for the measure.
Colorado’s effort to drop use of “illegal alien” is the latest in several such moves by government bodies at the local, state and national levels.
The Library of Congress recently decided to stop using the heading "illegal aliens" in bibliographic records.
The Library of Congress made the decision after appeals by a student pro-immigrant organization at Dartmouth College and librarian organizations around the country.
The Dartmouth Coalition for Immigration Reform, Equality and DREAMers, or CoFIRED,argued that illegal alien dehumanizes undocumented immigrants.
Last year California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a measure removing the term from the state’s labor code.
Also last year, Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat, introduced legislation to remove the term – which has been used in U.S. documents since the Naturalization Act of 1790 – from official U.S. regulations, laws, and documents, among other things.
Among the modifications sought by the measure, called the CHANGE Act, are replacing the term alien with “foreign national,” striking “illegal alien” from federal law and replacing it with “undocumented foreign national,” and ensuring that all executive branch agencies stop using alien and illegal alien “in signage and literature.”
The U.S. government uses the term alien to refer to a person who is not a citizen or national of the United States. So legal immigrants are referred to as “legal aliens.”
Opponents of changing the term say it is a stark reference to the reality of the unlawful actions of people who enter or live here in violation of immigration laws. They call attempts to change the use of “illegal” and “alien” political correctness.
Colorado Rep. Justin Everett, a Republican, is among those who voted against the measure seeking to drop the use of “illegal alien.”
"It's that PC thing that's being pushed," he said to the Denver Post. "If someone is here illegally and you want to change the name of it sort of justifies it. It sort of gives them an air that they are here legally. We really need to recognize that people are here illegally. Illegal is illegal, any way you slice it."
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