Texas Representative Joaquin Castro has started an initiative to remove the term “alien” from the federal government’s lexicon. He believes the word is dehumanizing and compared it to “lunatic” and “mentally retarded.”
Castro argues that the word “alien” is used to “dehumanize and ostracize” anyone born outside the United States. “Regardless of status, immigrants to our nation are first and foremost human beings,” said the Texas democrat.
It seems Castro is confusing the term with the Hollywood definition (i.e. a little green man with a big head). “Alien,” a legal term that has been used for decades to describe someone immigrating to the United States either legally or illegally, is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “from another country.” The dictionary also defines “alien” as
1. Not familiar or like other things you have known: different from what you are used to
2. Too different from something to be acceptable or suitable
Nowhere does that definition mention “not human.” Besides, when have you ever heard someone use the term “alien” as an insult? There are plenty of racial slurs and offensive terms hurled at immigrants, but alien is not one of them.
Immigration and tax laws use the word “alien” to describe a person who has come to the US from another country. In terms of immigration status, a “nonresident alien” is a person living in the US temporarily. A “resident alien” is a person who has been granted a green card, in other words, permanent permission to live and work in the US.
Castro believes that erasing the terms “alien” and “illegal alien” will “help lessen the prejudice and vitriol that for too long have poisoned our nation’s discussions around immigration reform.”
His legislation has no hope of getting anywhere.
What Castro seems to be forgetting is that it isn’t the label, but the behavior of illegal aliens that upsets Americans. For someone who claims to love immigrants such much, I’m surprised Representative Castro has chosen to spend his time on this wild goose chase instead of something that would actually improve immigrants’ lives.