The New York City Council on Friday voted to bar the use of the words “alien” and “illegal immigrant” in official city business, insisting on the term “noncitizens.”
2The move comes eight months after the city’s Commission on Human Rights issued guidance that outlawed the terms “illegals” or “illegal alien” with the “intent to demean, humiliate or harass a person.”
Using the terms became punishable by a fine of up to $250,000.
The measure still requires the signature of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson hailed the passage in a tweet, boasting: “New York City just became the first major U.S. city to prohibit the use of the dehumanizing and offensive term “alien” in local laws, rules, and documents.”
Four members voted against the measure, including Steven Matteo of Staten island.
“Not all noncitizens are the same,” Matteo told Staten Island Live.
“Some are tourists, students, or temporary or permanent legal residents, while others have entered and/or remain in this country unlawfully. This legislation is an ill-conceived attempt to erase these important distinctions from all city government publications.”
Councilman Francisco Moya, a Democrat from Queens who sponsored the bill, said the words “alien” and “illegal immigrant” were “outdated and loaded words used to dehumanize the people they describe.”
“Words matter. The language we choose to use has power and consequences. It’s time we as a city use our language to acknowledge people as people rather than to dehumanize them and divide us,” Moya said.
A statement from the New York City Commissioner on Immigrant Affairs Bitta Mostofi called the terms “harmful and xenophobic.”
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