Rep. Joaquin Castro Introduces Legislation to Change the Term Alien in Federal Law

October 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Oct. 21, 2015 

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) introduced legislation to remove offensive and inflammatory language characterizing immigrants as “aliens” from federal law. The Correcting Hurtful and Alienating Names in Government Expression (CHANGE) Act changes this terminology in U.S. code and federal agencies’ materials and documentation.

 “America is a nation of immigrants, yet our federal government continues to use terms that dehumanize and ostracize those in our society who happen to have been born elsewhere,” said Rep. Castro. “Regardless of status, immigrants to our nation are first and foremost human beings. Removing the term ‘alien’ from our federal laws shows respect to our shared heritage and to the hundreds of millions of descendants of immigrants who call America home.”

 Specifically, the CHANGE Act:

  • Changes the term “alien” in federal law to the term “foreign national
  • Strikes the term “illegal alien” from federal law and replaces it with the term “undocumented foreign national
  • Ensures all Executive Branch agencies do not use the term “alien” and “illegal alien” in signage and literature

Current law uses the term “alien” to describe a person who is not a citizen or national of the United States. This language has been included in U.S. code since the Naturalization Act of 1790. Since that time though, the term has taken on a highly negative connotation.

 Precedent exists for this type of terminology reform. For example, the law has been changed to strike terms such as “lunatic” (21st Century Language Act) and “mentally retarded” (Rosa’s Law) from statute.

 “Words matter, particularly in the context of an issue as contentious as immigration,” added Rep. Castro. “Discontinuing our use of the term ‘alien’ will help lessen the prejudice and vitriol that for too long have poisoned our nation’s discussions around immigration reform. The recognition of immigrants’ personhood in our laws should bring civility to and prompt progress in our efforts to fix America’s broken immigration system.”

 The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the National Immigration Forum have offered their support for the CHANGE Act.


Nestora Salgado on hunger strike

May 20, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

May 19, 2015

Dear Friend,

Nestora Salgado, courageous champion of her indigenous community and a political prisoner in Mexico, is on a hunger strike. She began refusing food on May 5th and intends “to take this to the bitter end,” according to her attorney Leonel Rivero Rodriguez.

The Freedom for Nestora Committee is contacting you because we need your financial support to help win Nestora’s freedom at this critical juncture.

Nestora Salgado

We will be sending a delegation to Mexico City as soon as possible to publicize Nestora’s cause and show that she has widespread support in the U.S. While in Mexico, we will meet with other free Nestora activists and attorney Rivero Rodriguez as well as lead a protest on the steps of the Secretariat of the Interior (Secretaria de Gobernación) building. If it can be arranged, we will also talk with the media, Mexican government representatives and visit the U.S. embassy. Your generous donation will help make this emergency trip possible.

This last week has seen a flurry of support actions inside Mexico, including solidarity hunger strikes begun May 13 by Nestora’s fellow community police leaders Arturo Campos and Gonzalo Molina, who were illegally jailed shortly after she was. Our delegation will join their families in calling for the release of all political prisoners.

We are also raising money toward Nestora’s legal defense. Right now she is in prison in Nayarit, Tepic, a 12 hour journey from her attorney in Mexico City. The Mexican legal system is designed to thwart prisoners’ rights to confer with their lawyers and to have speedy trials. This means a 45 minute meeting with her attorney can take days to arrange, plus travel time–and that equals spiraling legal costs.

If you are ready to act now, you can make your online contribution here. Or make out your check to the “RW-Nestora Fund” and mail it c/o New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle WA 98144. 

With Nestora on a hunger strike to the “bitter end,” time is of the essence.

Read on if you need more information – or visit


After almost two years in prison awaiting trial, Nestora’s health is deteriorating rapidly. During this time, all federal charges related to her role as commander of a perfectly legal community police force were dropped and she was ordered released. However, the Guerrero state prosecutor has refused to free her and instead manufactured new charges that carry a 1000- year sentence!

In the meantime, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ordered the Mexican government to take immediate steps to address Nestora’s serious health problems, which could include Nestora being transferred from the prison in Nayrit to one in Mexico City where the needed medical care is available. The National Human Rights Commission of the Mexican federal Chamber of Deputies also made this request—more than once.

Finally, yesterday the Secretary of the Interior, in light of the measures outlined by these two bodies, announced that Nestora will be moved to a prison with fewer restrictions and where she will have more rights. This is welcome news, but we’ve heard it all before and nothing happened. Instead the politicians, state prosecutor and court system in Guerrero have proven to be very effective at blocking her transfer–so far.

This is why Nestora is on hunger strike. She was illegally sent to a federal prison, falsely charged along with her co-leaders, and held for almost two years on the insistence of a corrupt Guerrero political and court system.

Her crime? Being elected to lead a community police force, authorized under the Guerrero and Mexican constitutions, in her hometown of Olinála—and doing her job so well she threatened the “traditional political fiefdoms,” as her lawyer puts it. A brave, independent, indigenous woman leader, Nestora is fighting for her life and her community. And she is only one of hundreds of political prisoners in Mexico!

Please make a donation today to the Freedom for Nestora Committee here or mail your check made out to “RW-Nestora fund” c/o New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118.

And many, many thanks for your ongoing support. ¡Libertad para Nestora, Arturo Campos y Gonzalo Molina!


Su Docekal, Libertad para Nestora/ Freedom for Nestora Committee

Grisel Rodriguez, Nestora’s daughter

José Luis Avila, Nestora’s husband

For our brochure on Nestora, click here for English, and here for español

Outrage over Obama’s delay on Immigration action

September 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

By Julia Edwards

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hispanic lawmakers and immigration advocates harshly criticized President Barack Obama’s decision to delay executive action on immigration and vowed to keep pressuring him to make bold changes.

Democratic Representatives Luis Gutierrez and Tony Cardenas on Sunday accused Obama of playing politics the day after the president said he would wait until after November’s congressional elections to change policy on immigration.

The announcement marked a reversal for Obama, who publicly promised to act by the end of summer.

“Playing it safe might win an election,” Gutierrez said on ABC’s “This Week” program. “But it almost never leads to fairness, to justice and to good public policy that you can be proud of.” Read more

Next Page »