Library of Congress to Cancel the Subject Heading “Illegal Aliens”

Reversing the practice of more than twenty years, the Library of Congress, after lengthy consultation, has decided to discard the label “illegal alien” for headings of Library materials. Typical of the pressures influencing this change was the 2014 announcement of the Associated Press that its style sheet would no longer attribute illegality to an individual. Here’s the result:

“In response to constituent requests, the Policy and Standards Division of the Library of Congress, which maintains Library of Congress Subject Headings, has investigated the possibility of cancelling or revising the heading Illegal aliens. PSD also explored the possibility of revising the broader term Aliens. It concluded that the meaning of Aliens is often misunderstood and should be revised to Noncitizens, and that the phrase illegal aliens has become pejorative. The heading Illegal aliens will therefore be cancelled and replaced by two headings, Noncitizens and Unauthorized immigration, which may be assigned together to describe resources about people who illegally reside in a country.”