June 09, 2016


Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) took to the House floor where he requested a point of order and brought attention to House Republicans’ campaign to force the Library of Congress to continue its use of the offensive term “illegal alien” in its subject headings system. Republicans included language in the FY17 Legislative Appropriations bill’s committee report that blocks the Library of Congress from carrying out its proposal to update its subject headings by replacing the term “aliens” with “noncitizens,” and replacing the term “illegal alien” with “noncitizens” and “unauthorized immigration.” 

“Never before in history has Congress so much as communicated with the Library of Congress about its subject headings, let alone introduced legislation concerning them,” said Rep. Castro. “With this bill, that’s all about to change. House Republicans are poised to make history by – for the first time ever – interfering in the Library of Congress’ subject headings processes to preserve a prejudicial term that’s particularly offensive to Hispanics.”

Last night, the House Rules Committee rejected two amendments Rep. Castro introduced in opposition to the “alien”-related language in the Legislative Appropriations bill’s committee report, thus blocking formal debate on the issue from taking place in the full House. The Rules Committee’s decision to stifle discussion on the controversial language prompted Congressman Castro to request the point of order today and shine a light on the consequences of the Legislative Appropriations bill’s passage. 

“House Republicans are trying to force the most prestigious library in our nation to use the offensive, divisive language of their candidate for President, Donald Trump,” added Rep. Castro. “This effort is proof that his ugly rhetoric is permeating the party he leads. I would hope that after all the slander and vitriol Mr. Trump has flung at Hispanics, Muslims, women, and so many other groups in this nation, Republicans in Congress would show the courage of their convictions and refuse to carry out his bidding in this body.”

As a result of the point of order, a vote in the full House was held to allow a vote on Congressman Castro’s legislation, H.R. 3785, the Correcting Hurtful and Alienating Names in Government Expression (CHANGE) Act. The CHANGE Act would replace the terms “alien” and “illegal alien” in federal law with the terms “foreign national” and “undocumented foreign national.” Republicans came out in force to avoid removing dehumanizing language from federal code, and the motion failed by a vote of 231 to 170. 

Video of Congressman Castro’s full remarks during the point of order is available here: LINK

Congressman Castro has sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to all members of the House of Representatives, urging them to vote against the FY17 Legislative Appropriations bill tomorrow because of the “alien”-related language in the legislation’s committee report. That letter can be viewed here: LINK

Democratic Leadership and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are also urging members of the House to vote against the FY17 Legislative Appropriations bill.