“Illegal” is dehumanizing, and “alien” makes people feel far removed. The first step in erasing immigration laws is to erase the TERMS that define the laws.
The Library of Congress is nixing the term “illegal alien” from its international subject headings in response to student activists at Dartmouth College who complained that the wording is dehumanizing.
The Library of Congress has announced that it will use “unauthorized immigration” and “noncitizen” to replace “illegal aliens” in its bibliographical records.
The Dartmouth Coalition for Immigration Reform, Equality and DREAMers, or CoFIRED, worked with library associations across the U.S. to push for the changes.
“Illegal aliens is a dehumanizing, racially charged term,” Oscar Cornejo, co-founder of CoFIRED, said. “It’s about changing how we talk about things. The word alien makes undocumented people seem far removed, extraterrestrial.”
Dennise Hernandez, co-director of CoFIRED, said in a statement released Tuesday that “referring to immigrants as ‘illegal’ is an offensive, dehumanizing term and … there is no excuse to continue using it.” Hernandez demanded that politicians and media outlets stop using the phrase “illegal aliens.”
Other activists argued that there is no such thing as an “illegal person.”
“Illegal alien” is still an official government term used to describe immigrants who are in the country illegally.
In October 2015, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D., Texas) introduced legislation that would eliminate the term from federal law. The bill has yet to advance.
The movement to drop the term gained momentum in 2013 after the Associated Press announced it would no longer use “illegal” or “illegal immigrant” to describe individuals. (Read more at Washington Free Beacon)
“Since a person cannot technically be illegal, critics argue the term should be dropped, even when immigrants’ actions are legally unsanctioned. The term is increasingly characterized as a racial slur, especially when it is used to dehumanize individual people,” Smithsonian.com writes.
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