New York City reportedly outlawed the use of the terms “alien” and “illegal immigrant” in official government documents Thursday and will now refer to illegal immigrants as “noncitizens.”
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the term “alien” was “dehumanizing,” and said New York will become the first city to bar the language in government documents. (RELATED: The Four Ways Washington Can Fix America’s Broken Immigration System)
BREAKING: New York City just became the first major U.S. city to prohibit the use of the dehumanizing and offensive term “alien” in local laws, rules, and documents. From now on, the term will be “noncitizen.”
— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) May 28, 2020
“These words are outdated and loaded words used to dehumanize the people they describe. It’s time to retire them,” Council Member Francisco Moya, the resolution’s sponsor said, according to an NBC affiliate in New York. “Words matter. The language we choose to use has power and consequences.”
The report also stated that the new resolution will make it a crime to threaten “someone for their use of another language or their limited English proficiency, and [to threaten] to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE ) on a person based on a discriminatory motive.”
The move to strike the “dehumanizing” language from government documents comes just months after New York City‘s Commission on Human Rights threatened $250,000 fines for individuals who use the term “illegal” in a derogatory way, a measure some considered unconstitutional.
While New York is the first city to make such a move, lawmakers in other parts of the country, including Colorado, have also introduced legislation that would ban the term “illegal” from government documents.