Alien

A foreign-born individual who is not a citizen of the country they reside in.
Alien definition

“Alien” is a legal term historically used in immigration law to refer to a person who is not a citizen or national of a particular country. However, this term is increasingly viewed as dehumanizing and offensive, as it implies foreignness and a sense of not belonging. In response to this, many organizations and government agencies have made a significant shift in their language, moving away from using “alien” and adopting more neutral terms like “non-citizen” or “foreign national.” This shift reflects a growing awareness and sensitivity to the impact of language on individuals’ sense of belonging and identity.

The term ‘alien’ is derived from the legal concept of ‘alienage,’ which refers to the status of being a citizen of another country or lacking citizenship altogether. In the United States, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) still uses the term ‘alien’ to describe individuals who are not U.S. citizens or nationals. However, there is a growing movement to update the language used in immigration laws and policies to reflect a more inclusive and respectful approach.

It’s crucial to understand that the term ‘alien’ is not limited to a specific immigration status. It includes a wide range of individuals, such as lawful permanent residents, temporary workers, international students, and undocumented immigrants. This diversity underscores the importance of using precise and accurate terminology that reflects an individual’s specific immigration situation, particularly in legal and policy contexts.

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