New York City Bans the Term “Alien”: Colorado Looks to Do the Same
By David Jaroslav | FAIR Take | May 2020
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued economic fallout from the lockdowns, some politicians think their priority should be banning words that offend their open-borders sensibilities, like “illegal" and “alien.” This is despite the fact that these are accurate and longstanding legal terms that have been defined by federal law and by common English usage long before even that. This week, New York City adopted a ban, while the state legislature in Colorado considered one.
New York City
On May 28, the New York City Council overwhelmingly passed a bill that eliminates the terms “alien,” “illegal immigrant” and “illegal migrant” from local laws, rules and documents, substituting instead “noncitizen.” This term is not merely less precise and potentially legally incorrect in some contexts, but adds to the open-borders narrative that illegal aliens and legal immigrants are the same.
The bill sponsor, Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Queens), as well as Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) both referred to the banned terms as “dehumanizing” and “offensive,” while the city's Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, Bitta Mostofi, took the bill's passage as an opportunity to condemn the Trump Administration’s enforcement of our immigration laws, saying, “the federal government is engaged in divisive policies and racist rhetoric.”
Of the council's 51 members, only four voted against the bill, including Minority Leader Steven Matteo (R-Staten Island), who stressed that “[n]ot all noncitizens are the same. Some are tourists, students, or temporary or permanent legal residents, while others have entered and/or remain in this country unlawfully. This legislation is an ill-conceived attempt to erase these important distinctions from all city government publications.”
The bill now goes to Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), who is expected to sign it.
In Colorado, a bill to ban the term “illegal alien" from parts of state law was introduced on February 12 and was rapidly moving in the legislature before COVID-19 intervened. Now that the legislature is in session again, it may move forward.
House Bill (HB) 1188, sponsored by Representative Susan Lontine (D-Denver) and Senator Julie Gonzales (D-Denver) would replace “illegal alien” with “unauthorized worker” throughout the state's statutes related to public contracting.
In the House, the bill quickly passed the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee on February 27 before passing the full House 43-21 on March 9. Three Republicans joined all the Democrats in supporting it.
The legislature suspended its session from March 14 to May 26 due to the pandemic. HB 1188 was scheduled to be heard by the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee the day after the legislature reconvened, on May 27, but that hearing was postponed; however, according to the committee's website, it “will be rescheduled to a future date, which has yet to be determined.”
Because of the suspension, the legislature will likely be in session at least through all of June, giving the bill plenty of time to move forward. It will likely not move as fast in the Senate since the Senate is more closely divided with 19 Democrats and 16 Republicans.
If the bill passes both chambers, Governor Jared Polis (D) is likely to sign it.