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Gov. Newsom Signs Law Replacing Term ‘Alien’ With ‘Noncitizen’ or ‘Immigrant’
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The state of California passed laws in 2015 and 2016 to ban the term from its labor and education code. However, the new law also prohibits its use in additional state codes.

California will eliminate the term “alien” from its state laws, eliminating what Gov. Gavin Newsom described as an “offensive term for a human being” that has “fueled a divisive narrative.”

The word was removed from several sections of the California state code by Gov. Newsom. In 2015 and 2016, California passed laws removing the word from the state’s labor and education code.

  
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However, Newsom’s law completes the job by removing the term from state statutes. The word will be replaced by terms such as “noncitizen” or “immigrant.”

“By changing this term, we are ensuring California’s laws reflect our state’s values,” Newsom said.

Since at least 1798, when the “Aliens and Sedition Acts” were passed, the U.S. government has used the term “alien” to describe foreigners in the country who are not citizens. Assemblywoman Luz Rivas, a Democrat from Arleta, said the term has been weaponized and used in place of explicitly racial slurs to dehumanize immigrants.

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“The words we say and the language we adopt in our laws matter — this racist term ‘alien’ must be removed from California statute immediately,” Rivas said.

In recent years, news agencies, libraries, and governments have updated the immigration language. Associated Press updated its widely used stylebook in 2013 to discourage the use of the term “illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant.” Harvard Library announced in March that it was removing the phrase “illegal alien” from its cataloging language.



Earlier this year, U.S. President Joe Biden directed federal immigration agencies to stop calling migrants “aliens.”

California is modernizing its laws once again through this change. Earlier this year, Governor Newsom signed laws inserting gender-neutral language into laws governing the California Conservation Corps and elected offices.

Despite Vice President Kamala Harris being the state’s first woman attorney general and Eleni Kounalakis being the state’s first woman lieutenant governor, California’s laws refer to them as “he” and “him.”

In California, some low-income children and some adults living in the country illegally are covered by government-funded health insurance.

In addition to defining immigration-based crimes as hate crimes, Newsom also signed regulations requiring private detention facilities that hold immigrants to follow local and state public health regulations.



 

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