Assemblywoman Luz Rivas’ Bill to Remove the Derogatory Term “Alien” from State Law Signed by the Governor

SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assemblywoman Luz Rivas’ (D-San Fernando Valley) Assembly Bill (AB) 1096 into law. AB 1096 eliminates the offensive term “alien” from all state laws and policies, replacing it with other language that is more reflective of today’s legal terminology, such a “noncitizen” or “immigrant.”

“Today marks a huge step forward in the fight to dismantle institutional racism targeted specifically towards our immigrant communities,” said Assemblywoman Luz Rivas. “For decades, the term ‘alien’ has become weaponized and has been used in place of explicitly racial slurs to dehumanize immigrants. The words we say and the language we adopt in our laws matter – this racist term ‘alien’ must be removed from California statute immediately. I want to thank Governor Newsom for recognizing the importance of this bill and taking action to remove derogatory language from our laws.”

“The word ‘alien’ has no right to be in California statute – no human being is an ‘alien,’” said long-time civil rights activist Dolores Huerta. “It is insulting and dehumanizing to have that terminology in our laws. Words are powerful instruments and history has shown us how they can be used to justify institutional racism and even violence. I want to thank Governor Newsom for signing this important measure.”

“Using the outdated term ‘alien’ to describe a person is dehumanizing, and AB 1096 will change that,” said Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis. “As a daughter of an immigrant, I understand the weight that the word ‘alien’ carries, and the impact of this bill becoming law. I commend Governor Newsom for solidifying this effort to change the narrative around immigration in California.”

California’s legislature first introduced “alien” into statute in 1937 to refer to fully naturalized U.S. citizens and immigrants living within U.S. borders. In the 1990s, people began to use the word “alien” as a dog whistle to express bigotry and hatred without using explicitly racist language.

“Nearly 11 million Californians were born outside of the United States, and we are proud of that fact,” said Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), co-author and Chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. “Our immigrant communities add so much to California. It’s time we get rid of the dehumanizing, xenophobic language in the California Code referring to immigrants as ‘aliens’, and replace it with a term that gives the dignity to our immigrant population that they deserve.”

“As an official Latino Caucus priority, I am proud that Governor Newsom signed AB 1096 into law,” said Latino Caucus Vice-Chair and co-author, Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Salinas). “The term ‘illegal alien’ has historically been used to discriminate and dehumanize our undocumented neighbors. This legislation will update state law to reflect California’s values of diversity and inclusivity.”

“AB 1096 makes it clear that no human being is an ‘alien,’ regardless of where a person is born. I’m proud to have partnered with Assemblymember Luz Rivas in introducing this legislation and very grateful to Governor Newsom for signing it into law. The offensive immigration policies of the past will no longer dictate California’s future,” said Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley).

“When we speak about undocumented Californians, we’re talking about our friends and neighbors—people who are vital members of our families and our communities. It’s essential that state law reflects this reality and that we treat them with the respect and dignity that they deserve,” said Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. “I applaud Assemblymember Luz Rivas for leading the effort to remove this offensive term from state law and thank Governor Newsom for signing this important measure.”

Assemblywoman Luz Rivas proudly represents the 39th Assembly District, which includes the City of Los Angeles communities of Arleta, Lake View Terrace, Granada Hills, Mission Hills, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Sun Valley, Sunland-Tujunga, Sylmar, and the City of San Fernando.

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