I’m not kidding – “Resident Alien” really is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services term and is defined in the USCIS glossary as follows:
“This term applies to non-U.S. citizens currently residing in the United States. The term is applied in three different manners; please see Permanent resident, Conditional resident, Returning resident.”
Those words – “RESIDENT ALIEN” – used to be printed in big bold, capital letters all the way across the top of the so-called green card that non-U.S. residents receive to prove they are in this country legally. (Except in those days the green card wasn’t really green, but washed out pink).
And since my copy of Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English from 1988, defines “alien” as:
- belonging to another country or people
- strange; not natural
- opposed or repugnant
- an outsider
- and, of course, a hypothetical being in or from outer space
being called an “alien” felt really weird. And it bugged me.
That’s why I wrote “Alien” – because I didn’t like being called an “alien” and I didn’t like to think of myself as “strange,” “not natural,” or “repugnant.” (whether I really am or not)
Mike Joyce, the Editor of Literary Orphans, liked the poem enough to accept it, and “Alien” appeared in the August, 2013 issue of Literary Orphans. After reading the issue, I felt humbled to be in the company of many amazing writers. Please, do read Literary Orphans. It’s definitely worth your time.
By the way, I have to say, I am very glad to see that, since I got my citizenship, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has decided to replace the words “resident alien” on the green card with the phrase “permanent resident.”
“Permanent resident” sounds much better than “resident alien”!