Some states dropping "dehumanizing" terms for immigrants

“I want other children of immigrants, like me, to not feel the same way I did, that my family did, when we saw the word ‘alien’,” said Rivas, now an assemblywoman in the California Legislature.

The Democratic lawmaker sought to retire the term and this year authored a bill — since signed into law — that replaces the use of “alien” in state statutes with other terms such as “noncitizen” or “immigrant.” Her effort was inspired by a similar shift earlier this year by the Biden administration.

Immigrants and immigrant-rights groups say the term, especially when combined with “illegal,” is dehumanizing and can have a harmful effect on immigration policy.