California Gov. bans word ‘alien’ from state labor law

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is clearly an adage that California Gov. Jerry Brown does not believe in. On Monday, Brown signed into law a bill that bans the word “alien” from the state’s labor laws:

SB 432, introduced by State Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), removes the term “alien,” previously defined as “any person who is not a born or fully naturalized citizen of the United States.” It also removed the state’s preference for hiring U.S. citizens on public works projects during periods of unemployment.

The bill passed the State Senate unanimously. Mendoza said at the time the State Senate approved the bill that the term “alien” was “offensive,” adding: “It has no place in our laws and should not be the basis of employment hiring.” Last month, as the State Assembly added its approval, he said: “Alien is now commonly considered a derogatory term for a foreign -born person and has very negative connotations.”

Only one person in the entire California state legislature voted against the measure:

The only vote against the bill came in the State Assembly, from Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach (Orange County), who told the San Francisco Chronicle that the bill was “just a way for legislators to get their names in the paper….[t]he negative connotations come from the fact that people are breaking the law. Changing the word won’t change the fact that folks are here illegally.”

The federal government and other states still use the term “alien” to describe foreigners residing both illegally and legally in the United States. The California law will go into effect Jan. 1.