I’v always wondered why immigrants are called aliens. Isn’t that a term more appropriate for creatures from another planet? But after a while I got used to it: Maybe the word alien simply means foreigners, in addition to ugly looking dudes trying to destroy Earth. After all, it is a legal term – a word actually written in our very law.
In a recent opinion letter, however, Judge DAMON J. KEITH of the Appeals Court expressed his view:
We recognize that using the term “alien” to refer to other human beings is offensive and
demeaning. We do not condone the use of the term and urge Congress to eliminate it from the U.S. Code.
We use it here, however, to be consistent with the statutory language and to avoid any confusion in
replacing a legal term of art with a more appropriate term.
I have to admit, although I won’t go on a hunger strike to demand the change, I’ll be happy if it goes. It just doesn’t sound that hard to find an alternative to describe immigrants (how about……immigrants?) While we’re at it, let’s also help USCIS find a better name for Advance Parole – a legal document issued to people in legal status, for them to return to the U.S. legally. Here is the definition of parole in a dictionary:
- a. Early release of a prisoner who is then subject to continued monitoring as well as compliance with certain terms and conditions for a specified period./li>
- b. The duration of such conditional release.
- A password used by an officer of the day, an officer on guard, or the personnel commanded by such an officer.
- Word of honor, especially that of a prisoner of war who is granted freedom only after promising not to engage in combat until formally exchanged.
- Linguistics The act of speaking; a particular utterance or word.