- President Joe Biden wants to remove the word "alien" from US immigration law.
- Biden wants to replace the term with "non-citizen."
- It's a symbolic gesture, his administration said, toward framing America as "a nation of immigrants."
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President Joe Biden wants to remove the word "alien" from US immigration laws as a symbolic gesture to acknowledge the US as "a nation of immigrants."
In a summary of his immigration bill, Biden said he planned to replace the word with "non-citizen."
"The language change on the first day of this administration, with Kamala Harris the daughter of immigrants, to me it's not just symbolic…it's foundational," Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist and undocumented immigrant told CNN.
Currently, the US code defines anyone who is "not a citizen or national of the United States," as an "alien."
Several local jurisdictions have already moved to modify the word used to define immigrants. In 2015, then California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that removed the word "alien" from the labor law.
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In 2019, New York City banned the use of the words "illegal alien" when they're used "with intent to demean, humiliate or harass a person."
Former President Donald Trump used the term frequently especially as he played up baseless allegations of the dangers of immigration.
CNN reported that Trump used the term at least five times while speaking at the US-Mexico border last week.
"We were in the Trump administration the perennial boogeyman," Vargas told CNN. "Whenever Trump was in trouble, he started talking about the 'illegals' and talking about the border."
Biden has made immigration a priority as he took office on Wednesday. He issued an executive order revoking the Muslim ban. He also unveiled a plan to give farmworkers permanent residency and a way for Dreamers to have a pathway to citizenship.
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