It has become clear through a number of executive orders signed in the first week of President Joe Biden’s term in office that his administration will have a much different stance on the issue of immigration.
Now, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) has introduced a bill to replace the term “illegal alien” with less “hurtful” language to describe undocumented immigrants.
“A far greater chance”
According to the Washington Examiner, the rhetoric is tucked inside a proposed bill known as the Correcting Hurtful and Alienating Names in Government Expression, or CHANGE, Act. Castro introduced the document on Monday as part of an effort to “modernize” immigration law by eliminating “derogatory” terms.
The CHANGE Act also recommends stripping laws of other supposedly divisive terms. Examples include replacing “alien” with “foreign national” and “illegal alien” with “undocumented foreign national.”
Of course, the Democratic Party’s concern over immigration-related language is not new, and Castro has even introduced the same bill in the past. After Biden’s inauguration, however, the Texas Democrat now believes the timing is right for another try.
“With a new administration in office, these bills now have a far greater chance of becoming laws,” Castro said.
He went on to express optimism that the proposed bill “will be included in a broader effort to protect the most vulnerable among us and restore America’s promise as a nation of immigrants.”
“A nation of immigrants”
Indeed, Biden himself has previously called for the term “alien” to be replaced with “noncitizen” in his U.S. Citizenship Act proposal, declaring that it “recognizes America as a nation of immigrants.”
The president’s bill calls for a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants over the span of eight years, along with instant green card distribution to recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or Temporary Protected Status.
Farmworkers would also be eligible for green cards under Biden’s proposal and would be eligible for citizenship after three years.
Ostensibly seeking to address the “root causes” of illegal immigration, the bill calls for billions of dollars in foreign aid to be sent to Central America as well as the development of a so-called “smart” border barrier. Biden is reportedly amenable to breaking the bill up into smaller pieces of legislation.
Democratic Party leaders have also been focused on altering language on other topics in recent weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), for example, worked to implement a new rule earlier this month that would strip gender-specific terms from being included in official congressional communications.