‘Illegal Aliens’: Fighting to preserve an anachronistic and offensive term


Editorial from the New York Times.

In 2014, Melissa Padilla, an immigrant from Mexico, was dismayed to find while doing research for a paper at Dartmouth College that all articles about undocumented students were archived under the heading “illegal aliens.” When she led a group of students to ask the college library to consider phasing out the term, they expected, at best, to make a statement at the campus. But their request triggered a political fight that has drawn in lawmakers engaged in the immigration debate.

Dartmouth librarians told the students that indexing terms were set by the Library of Congress, but agreed to raise their concern with the American Library Association.

In January, the association passed a resolution calling on the Library of Congress to drop the subject heading “illegal aliens” and replace it with “undocumented immigrants.” In March, the library’s officials said they intended to replace “illegal aliens” with two new terms: “noncitizens” and “unauthorized immigration.”

Full editorial here

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