In a mostly symbolic gesture, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation yesterday to remove the definition of “alien” from the Labor Code. Presently, Labor Code section 1725 states:
“Alien” means any person who is not a born or fully naturalized citizen of the United States.
Senate Bill 432 repeals that statute. I say the step is symbolic because the term “alien” rarely appears in the Labor Code. The only substantive effect would be on a statute (Labor Code section 2015) that gave preference for certain public works jobs first to California residents, then to other states’ residents living in California, and lastly to “aliens.” But SB 432 repeals that section, too.
I have no objection to removing statutory terms that cause people offense. But if we ranked areas of California labor law where employers were in dire need of clarification, I don’t think this one makes the list. Besides, I would hate it if extra-terrestrial beings, who aren’t as familiar with our legislative process, misinterpreted this as a sign of aggression.