Cruz Slams Library of Congress' New Term for 'Illegal Aliens'

Texas senator blasts LOC for 'politically motivated' swap of term for 'noncitizens'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2021 6:43 AM CST
Cruz Shifts Attention From Big Bird to Library of Congress
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is seen during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 20, 2021.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(Newser) – Ted Cruz has no problem with the term "illegal alien," and he's miffed that the Library of Congress is moving away from it. Per the Hill, the GOP senator from Texas, along with Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, penned a nearly five-page-long letter Wednesday to the research library, accusing it of making "politically motivated changes" on the language it uses. The senators' move came after the LOC on Thursday announced it would be replacing certain subject headings used to catalog library materials—specifically, swapping out "illegal aliens" and "aliens" for the words "noncitizens" or "illegal immigration," reports NBC News.

"This decision is nothing but a politically motivated and Orwellian attempt to manipulate and control language," Cruz and Braun write in their letter to Carla Hayden, the Congress librarian. "The LOC's proposed replacement has nothing to do with Congress's original instruction—that the LOC 'consider appropriate sources of common terminology used to refer to a concept' ... and everything to do with a progressive preference to ... take up arms on a 'political battleground.'" It's not just a cultural issue, the senators maintain—it's a logistical one, too, as the older terms sync up with ones used in various materials throughout the library, meaning it makes it easier to find things with everything kept as is.

The LOC, however, which has been lobbying to make these changes since 2016, tells NBC the older terms will be kept for cross-referencing purposes, and that the replacement terms are "broader" and will "ensure users find library materials regardless of the many different terms that have been used over time." Those supporting the shift say there's precedence for removing outdated terms: Joaquin Castro, a Democratic congressman from Cruz's home state, has been a repeat sponsor of bills to scrub the word "alien" from the official vernacular, noting words such as "lunatic" and "mentally retarded" have been dropped from statutes in the past.

"Words matter, particularly in the context of an issue as contentious as immigration," Castro has said. The head of the American Library Association agrees, calling the older terms "offensive" and "dehumanizing," as does President Biden, who in a memo from earlier this year said that updated terms would confer "dignity" to immigrants trying to come to the US. Multiple media outlets note it's been a busy few weeks for Cruz on the culture battlegrounds: Earlier this month, the senator called a tweet from Sesame Street's Big Bird about getting vaccinated "government propaganda ... for your 5 year old." (Read more Ted Cruz stories.)

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