Rep. Castro Proposes Law to Stop Government from Using 'Alien' to Describe Foreigners

By Eric Scheiner | October 26, 2015 | 11:06am EDT
Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) (screengrab)

( - U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas) wants the federal government to drop the word "alien" from laws and documents because “when you use the word alien you think of martians and people from outer space.”

Castro introduced the The Correcting Hurtful and Alienating Names in Government Expression (CHANGE) Act last week. The measure removes the term “illegal alien” and replaces it with "undocumented foreign national" in federal law and government documents.

“When we think of immigrants, we don’t think of aliens,” Castro told MSNBC on Friday. “When you use the word ‘alien’ you think of martians and people from outer space. These are human beings that we’re talking about.”

“So, my point is that we can disagree on immigration reform policy but the very least that we could do is have respect for these folks as human beings.”

In a press release announcing the Change Act Castro says, “Words matter, particularly in the context of an issue as contentious as immigration.”

“Discontinuing our use of the term ‘alien’ will help lessen the prejudice and vitriol that for too long have poisoned our nation’s discussions around immigration reform. The recognition of immigrants’ personhood in our laws should bring civility to and prompt progress in our efforts to fix America’s broken immigration system.”

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