I am an alien, but I wasn’t born on Mars. I was born in México, but U.S. law sees me as an alien. I have many documents labelling me as an alien because U.S. law has always treated me as an “alien,” although I was born on Earth, like all of you.
I always found this disconcerting because U.S. law clearly draws a line between me and Americans. The U.S. laws were designed to dehumanize immigrants, even those following the law to live and work in America. Using “alien” was and is designed to segregate us from the “real Americans”.
To understand how the immigration laws are designed to dehumanize immigrants one must simply look at the word choice in the law. A simple “noncitizen” would have sufficed, but it would not have made the poignant point of dehumanizing those of us not born in the U.S.
That is why I have always been labeled an “alien” instead of a “noncitizen”.
But that may change soon.
Under the Joe Biden proposed U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, the word “alien” is to be replaced with the word “noncitizen” in U.S. immigration laws. The proposal “recognizes America as a nation of immigrants,” says the Biden fact sheet.
If Congress adopts the proposal it will go a long way in treating immigrants as people instead of something to fear.