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N.J. could soon remove the phrases ‘illegal alien’ and ‘inmate’ from state documents

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Brent Johnson | June 15, 2022 | NJ Advance Media |


Considered by some to be dehumanizing and outdated, the terms “illegal alien” and “inmate” could soon be removed from state statutes in New Jersey.

State lawmakers on Monday began advancing a bill that would replace references to “alien” and “illegal alien” in state laws, rules, and documents and replace them with the terms “foreign national” and “undocumented foreign national” when discussing an immigrant’s status.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Law Revision Commission has proposed removing the word “inmate” from state statutes and replacing it with “person who is incarcerated.”

The “illegal alien” measure (S2599) — which would also ban the state’s executive branch from using the term — calls the terms “offensive” and says “immigrants to our nation are first and foremost human beings.”

New Jersey, considered one of the most diverse states in the country, is home to more than 475,000 undocumented immigrants, with more than 130,000 who pay taxes.

State Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez, D-Camden, the proposal’s main sponsor, said the words used to describe people in statutes are “extremely important due to the power they have to isolate and dehumanize communities.”


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