Calling migrants ‘aliens’ leads to policies like child separation, says MSNBC host

Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF

Calling migrants “aliens” makes it easier to dehumanize the group and leads to harsh policies such as children being separated from their families, an MSNBC host said Thursday.

The Biden administration’s immigration reform bill proposes changing the legal reference to “non-citizen” from “alien” in an effort to better reflect President Joe Biden’s views on immigration, MSNBC host Craig Melvin said, video shows. The Trump administration previously used the term “alien.”

“It strikes me that when you use a word like alien to refer to people, it makes it easier politically to dehumanize them. And that’s how you lead to policies where we saw, you know, children stripped from their parents at the southern border,” Melvin said.


Republicans defended the term in a House Judiciary Committee hearing, according to National Immigration Law Center Executive Director Marielena Hincapié. She added that U.S. laws should reflect the values of the country since the U.S. prides itself on being a nation of immigrants.

“The term ‘alien’ … was placed there [in legislation] by some legislator in our history that actually was dehumanizing and others, it basically connotes that this person is not a human,” Hincapié told MSNBC. “It dehumanizes and otherizes immigrants.”

The administration’s bill also includes an eight-year path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, benefits for DREAMers and immigrants temporarily living in the U.S. due to poor conditions back home, and increases the number of available diversity visas to 80,000, according to MSNBC.

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