Legislature Approves Assemblywoman Luz Rivas’ Bill to Remove the Derogatory Term “Alien” from State Law, Heads to the Governor’s Desk

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California State Legislature passed Assemblywoman Luz Rivas’ (D-Arleta) Assembly Bill (AB) 1096. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for signature. 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 colleagues in the Legislature for approving AB 1096 and I look forward to working with the Governor to eliminate this word from California’s 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 Assemblywoman Luz Rivas for securing the Legislature’s approval on behalf of those seeking justice and I urge Governor Newsom to sign this important measure.”

“As a daughter of an immigrant, I understand the weight and impact that the word ‘alien’ carries,” said Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis. “Using the outdated term ‘alien’ to describe a person is dehumanizing. I commend the Legislature for approving AB 1096, a bill that will 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 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 to see AB 1096 pass the Legislature and get one step closer to becoming law,” said Latino Caucus Vice-Chair and co-author, Assemblymember Robert Rivas. “The term ‘illegal alien’ has historically been used to discriminate and dehumanize our undocumented neighbors. This language has no place in California statute and I urge Governor Newsom to sign this legislation.”

“California’s path to creating a more respectful and inclusive society starts with the way we communicate with one another,” said Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley), Vice Chair of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. “No human being is an ‘alien’ — we are all connected, regardless of where we’re born. I’m grateful to Assemblymember Luz Rivas and my fellow co-authors for coming together to pass this bill, which should be seen as a clear sign that the offensive immigration policies of the past will not dictate California’s future.”

“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 urge Governor Newsom to sign 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.