The Library of Congress drops 'illegal' and 'alien' to describe immigrants
The Library of Congress announced they would discontinue using the terms “alien” and “illegal” in their subject headings to refer to undocumented immigrants, stating that the terms had become pejorative.
The decision comes more than two years after Dartmouth College students petitioned the, librarians, and faculty with the Dartmouth Coalition For Immigration Reform, Equality and DREAMers (CoFIRED).
"As a first year student at Dartmouth I decided that I wanted to explore my own identity as an undocumented immigrant but discovered that I had to access this information through a series of offensive terms used by libraries across the country," said Melissa Padilla, a Dartmouth senior and member of CoFIRED.
"CoFIRED collectively agreed with the feelings that I felt and took action by working with our university’s librarians to correct this terminology. Nearly two years later, the Library of Congress has made a change in favor of our humanity which will have ripple effects on institutions across the country," Padilla said.
From now on the Library of Congress announced it will use the terms "non-citizen" and "unauthorized immigrants" in subject headings to refer to undocumented immigrants.
This represents a victory for groups like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian and Latino journalists, and other advocates who had long asserted that the compound word could not be understood as neutral.