An effort by a local legislator to remove the word “alien” from much of the Code of Virginia hit a brick wall in a House of Delegates subcommittee.
“They are not ‘alien’ to anyone,” Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington-Fairfax) said in comments Jan. 26 before a subcommittee of the House Committee on General Laws.
Lopez’s bill – HB2059 – aimed to strike the word “alien” as it applies to undocumented individuals in many parts of the code, replacing it with synonymous language that “reflected today’s society,” Lopez said.
The patron noted that there were 840,000 Latinos in Virginia, who often bear a stigma even though most are either citizens or legal residents.
The measure attracted only one speaker, who said the measure was unnecessary because the word “alien” had a clear meaning and because it comported with language in federal statutes. Lopez noted that his bill allowed the word to stay in areas of the Code of Virginia where removing it would cause confusion with federal law.
Members of the subcommittee were disinclined to move it forward, voting 5-2 to lay it on the table – a polite term used for bills that are not reported to the full committee.
In the 2022 General Assembly session, a similar measure by Lopez took a longer and more winding road but ended up having the same fate.
That measure passed the House of Delegates on a 78-19 vote and the state Senate on a 22-18 tally.
Gov. Youngkin authored an amendment that would have set up a working group to consider the implications of the bill, report back and reconsider the measure in 2023. The Republican-led House of Delegates went along with the recommendation, but when the Democratic-led state Senate declined to consider it, Youngkin vetoed the bill.