NYC Council Votes to Ban the Terms ‘Alien' and ‘Illegal Immigrant' on Official Docs

New York Council Speaker Corey Johnson
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York City officials and law enforcement will no longer be able to use the terms "alien" and "illegal immigrant" to refer to undocumented immigrants.

The NYC Council voted Thursday to ban the "dehumanizing and offensive" words in local laws, rules and documents, said Speaker Corey Johnson. The term that officials will use going forward will be "noncitizen."

“These words are outdated and loaded words used to dehumanize the people they describe. It’s time to retire them," Council Member Francisco Moya said ahead of the vote. "Words matter. The language we choose to use has power and consequences."

Last year, the city's Commission on Human Rights issued a guidance that made it illegal to use the terms “illegal alien" or "illegals" with "intent to demean, humiliate or harass a person."

The guidance also made it illegal to harass or discriminate against "someone for their use of another language or their limited English proficiency, and threatening to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE ) on a person based on a discriminatory motive.”

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