Representative Joaquin Castro (D., Texas) has introduced a bill to remove the legal terms "alien" and "illegal alien" and replace them with "foreign national" and "undocumented foreign national."
"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" works to demonize and duhmanize the migrant community. They have no place in our government's description of human beings," Castro said in a statement, "Eliminating this language from government expression puts us one step closer to preserving their dignity and ensuring their safety."
His brother, former Obama administration official and current presidential candidate Julian Castro, backed the measure on Twitter soon after. Julian Castro has called for the decriminalization of border crossings.
Human beings aren’t ‘illegal’ and immigrants aren’t ‘aliens’. Proud of my brother @JoaquinCastrotx for introducing the CHANGE Act to eliminate our government’s use of these dehumanizing and racist terms. https://t.co/Y6UQ1P9MiM
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) July 17, 2019
Named the Correcting Alienating Names in Government Act, or CHANGE Act, the bill is "integral to creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment for incoming and current immigrants living in the United States," according to Castro.
A Rasmussen poll from last month showed that 26 percent of voters thought the phrase "illegal immigrant" was offensive, compared to 61 percent who said it was not. Only 30 percent of Democrats polled said the term was offensive, compared to 50 percent who did not.
The Associated Press stylebook removed usage of the term "illegal immigrant" in 2013, saying that "illegal" should "describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally." The AP also rejected the usage of "illegal alien" as well as "undocumented," which it said was not an accurate term.
Updated 7:38 p.m.: This was updated to include Julian Castro's tweet supporting the bill.