California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation on Friday to remove the word "alien" from state codes, arguing the term was discriminatory.
The new law will replace "alien" with words such as "noncitizen" and "immigrant," a move Newsom's office said was aimed at "continuing California's commitment to welcoming and diverse communities." The first-term Democrat, who recently prevailed by a wide margin in a Republican-backed gubernatorial recall challenge, said the change would eliminate statutory language of an offensive term and touted the state's treatment of illegal immigrants.
"As the nation's most diverse state, we are stronger and more vibrant because of our immigrant communities," Newsom said in a statement. "This important legislation removes the word ‘alien,' which is not only an offensive term for a human being, but for far too long has fueled a divisive and hurtful narrative. By changing this term, we are ensuring California's laws reflect our state's values."
Democrats have long criticized the use of the word, characterizing it as xenophobic, and Newsom's office described it as "a political dog whistle to express bigotry and hatred without using traditionally racist language." California had already passed laws removing "alien" from the state's labor and education code.
The change comes as migration along the southern border continues unabated, with historic numbers of immigrants seeking entry into the United States in recent months.
Customs and Border Protection encountered 208,887 people trying to cross the border in August, a number four times higher than the 50,014 people encountered in August 2020. Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asserted Wednesday that the border is "no less secure" than it was previously.
The Biden administration spent the last week trying to manage an encampment of thousands of Haitian migrants under a bridge near Del Rio, Texas. Images showing CBP agents corralling some of the migrants on horseback led to accusations that they were being whipped and sparked fury from Democrats, including President Joe Biden, who said those responsible "will pay."
CBP agents categorically denied whipping migrants. The photographer who took the viral images also denied seeing agents whipping the migrants and said the photos could be "misconstrued" as showing them being beaten.
Original Location: Newsom signs bill removing 'alien' from California code
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