Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), the Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and twin brother of presidential candidate Julian Castro, introduced legislation this week that would eliminate the terms “alien” and “illegal alien” from U.S. laws.
Castro’s CHANGE Act would replace “alien” with “foreign national” and “illegal alien” with “undocumented foreign national” in the Immigration and Nationalization Act. The Texas Democrat said those words “alien” and “illegal alien” “demonize and dehumanize the migrant community” as more migrants from Central America are trying to flood across the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Alien” has existed in the U.S. immigration code since 1790, but Castro’s Correcting Hurtful and Alienating Names in Government Expression (CHANGE) bill would also ensure that the Executive Branch agencies discontinue the use of “alien” and “illegal alien.”
“Words matter. 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 in our government’s description of human beings,” Castro said in a statement. “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.”
Castro introduced his bill a week after he visited migrant detention centers along the U.S.-Mexico border with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and other House Democrats.