Is the phrase ‘alien’ objectionable? Federal appeals decide sees ‘no have to bowdlerize’ choices and legal guidelines
Choose James C. Photograph from the fifth U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals at New Orleans.
A federal appeals decide who announced plans to boycott Yale Legislation Faculty college students for clerkships is taking purpose at his colleagues for utilizing the phrase “noncitizen” as an alternative of “alien.”
“I see no have to bowdlerize statutes or judicial choices that use the phrase ‘alien’ by substituting phrases like ‘noncitizen,’” he wrote.
“The phrase ‘alien’ is ubiquitous in statutes, rules, judicial choices and scholarly commentary on federal immigration regulation,” Ho wrote. “However regardless of this established utilization, some members of the judiciary have not too long ago begun to sign their opposition to utilizing that time period, on the bottom that it’s ‘offensive.’ … Respectfully, I don’t share in that sentiment.”
Ho stated he was admitted into the US “as an alien” earlier than he turned a citizen.
“Alien” will be discovered “in numerous judicial choices” and is “utilized in quite a few acts of Congress—together with those that allowed me to develop into an American,” Ho stated.
Some judges are involved that “alien” can recommend that somebody is unusual, totally different or repugnant, Ho wrote.
“That could be true in sure contexts. The phrase additionally refers to extraterrestrials in different contexts,” he wrote.
Within the context of immigration regulation, nevertheless, “alien” merely describes an individual’s authorized standing, Ho stated.
Ho cited one other decide who additionally sees nothing improper with “alien”—Choose Carlos T. Bea of the ninth Circuit at San Francisco. Bea, who was born in Spain, wrote about the issue in a September 2022 concurrence.
Ho additionally cited Bryan A. Garner, editor-in-chief of Black’s Legislation Dictionary and an ABA Journal columnist. A 2011 version of Garner’s Dictionary of Authorized Utilization states that: “Unlawful alien is just not an opprobrious epithet: It describes one current in a rustic in violation of the immigration legal guidelines.”
However Garner provided a nuanced remark to Bloomberg Legislation in an electronic mail.
“Though ‘alien’ in authorized prose was not meant to belittle, the favored connotations of the phrase have inevitably contaminated some individuals’s view of it,” Garner stated. “The linguistic traces have now been drawn as a part of the tradition wars.”
“Solely time will inform how the language will settle the difficulty,” Garner added. “In the intervening time, ‘alien’ doesn’t seem to have a shiny future.”