Trenton – The Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, & Historic Preservation Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez that would update the terminology in long-standing statutes that refer to foreign nationals as “aliens” and “illegal aliens”.
The bill, S-2599, would replace the terms “alien” and “illegal alien” in the New Jersey statutes with the terms “foreign national” and “undocumented foreign national” respectively, when referring to a person in the context of their legal status. Under the bill, State executive agencies would also be prohibited from using the terms “alien” and “illegal alien” in any proposed or final rule, regulation, interpretation, publication, or other document, display, or sign issued by the agency.
“The words we use to describe individuals in statutes are extremely important due to the power they have to isolate and dehumanize communities. As a nation of immigrants, our laws should discontinue the use of terms that actively ostracize those in our country who may have been born elsewhere. Especially in the context of an issue as contentious as immigration, discontinuing use of the terms ‘alien’ and ‘illegal alien’ will establish a more welcoming environment for incoming foreign nationals and offer recognition of their personhood in the laws of this State,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D Camden/Gloucester).
The bill was released by committee by a vote of 4-0.