The state Legislature has passed Assembly Bill (AB) 1096 eliminates the offensive term “alien” from all state laws and policies, replacing it with other language that is more reflective of today’s legal terminology, such a “noncitizen” or “immigrant.”
The bill, authored by Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-Arleta), now heads to the Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk for signature.
“Today marks a huge step forward in the fight to dismantle institutional racism targeted specifically towards our immigrant communities,” Rivas said. “For decades, the term ‘alien’ has become weaponized and has been used in place of explicitly racial slurs to dehumanize immigrants.
“The words we say and the language we adopt in our laws matter — this racist term ‘alien’ must be removed from California statute immediately. I want to thank colleagues in the Legislature for approving AB 1096 and I look forward to working with the Governor to eliminate this word from California’s laws.”
“The word ‘alien’ has no right to be in California statute — no human being is an ‘alien,’” said long-time civil rights activist Dolores Huerta. “It is insulting and dehumanizing to have that terminology in our laws. Words are powerful instruments and history has shown us how they can be used to justify institutional racism and even violence. I want to thank Assemblywoman Luz Rivas for securing the Legislature’s approval on behalf of those seeking justice and I urge Gov. Newsom to sign this important measure.”
Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, noted that when speaking of undocumented Californians, “we’re talking about our friends and neighbors — people who are vital members of our families and our communities. It’s essential that state law reflects this reality and that we treat them with the respect and dignity.”
The state Legislature first introduced “alien” into statute in 1937 to refer to fully naturalized US citizens and immigrants living within US borders. In the 1990s, people began to use the word “alien” as a dog whistle to express bigotry and hatred without using explicitly racist language.
“Nearly 11 million Californians were born outside of the United States, and we are proud of that fact,” said Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), co-author and Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.
“Our immigrant communities add so much to California. It’s time we get rid of the dehumanizing, xenophobic language in the California Code referring to immigrants as ‘aliens’, and replace it with a term that gives the dignity to our immigrant population that they deserve.”