Governor Newsom and the Historic Signing of AB 1096

Governor Newsom and the Historic Signing of AB 1096

Governor signs AB 1096, which removes the derogatory term “alien” used to describe foreign-born individuals


Moving forward on California’s promise to welcoming and diverse communities, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a suite of bills today expanding the state’s humane immigration policies by providing protections and aide for immigrants, including a new law to replace the outdated and derogatory term “alien” used to describe non-citizens in California State code.

“As the nation’s most diverse state, we are stronger and more vibrant because of our immigrant communities,” said Governor Newsom. “This important legislation removes the word ‘alien,’ which is not only an offensive term for a human being but for far too long has fueled a divisive and hurtful narrative. By changing this term, we are ensuring California’s laws reflect our state’s values.”

AB 1096

AB 1096, authored by Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-Arleta), will replace the word “alien” with language more reflective of today’s legal terminology, such as “non-citizen” or “immigrant.” The term “alien” has been used to identify individuals who were not born in the United States by the federal government since 1798 and in California since 1937. In the 1990s, the word “alien” began to be used as a political dog whistle to express bigotry and hatred without using traditionally racist language. By 2015, the term was officially replaced with “non-citizen,” however, “alien” is still widely used in many aspects of California law.

In addition to signing AB 1096, Governor Newsom signed a series of bills to protect the health and safety of immigrants, including legislation to clarify safety standards at detention facilities, ensure rights and protections for unaccompanied undocumented minors, and cement protection for immigrants under hate crime legislation.

California leads the nation with pro-immigrant policies that have sparked change nationwide, including expanding access to higher education, expanding access to health care and public benefits, advancing protections for immigrant workers, supporting immigrant students through partnerships with school districts, improving opportunities for economic mobility, and inclusion through access to drivers licenses and pro bono immigration services.

California’s Comeback Plan

Governor Newsom’s California Comeback Plan makes historic investments regardless of immigration status, offering an additional $1,000 in stimulus checks to undocumented families through the expanded Golden State Stimulus; the largest renter assistance program in the country; $5.2 billion to help low-income renters cover their back-rent and their rent for several months into the future; and $2 billion to help Californians pay past-due utility bills. The California Comeback Plan also enacts a “first-in-the-nation” expansion of Medi-Cal to undocumented Californians over 50 years old, providing access to critical health care services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, California has made free COVID-19 testing and treatment available for all Californians, regardless of insurance or immigration status. The state also prioritized high-risk neighborhoods for COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate people most at risk of contracting the virus, reaching many communities with large immigrant populations. To support food and agriculture workers who tested positive for or were exposed to COVID-19 and did not have a place to quarantine safely, California created Housing for the Harvest, the “first-in-the-nation” framework with FEMA that provided shelter and quarantine options for farmworkers to isolate. The program was also expanded to provide in-home quarantine support and cash assistance to participants. California also created a first-in-the-nation statewide public-private partnership to provide $150 million in disaster relief assistance to undocumented Californians. 


The 911 Legal Team

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