WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 2 passed legislation sponsored by Reps. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) and Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) that removes the term “Oriental” from federal law.

Reps. Grace Meng and Ed Royce
Reps. Grace Meng and Ed Royce

“The word ‘Oriental’ is an offensive and derogatory term that should no longer be used by the federal government,” said Meng. “Nobody in our country, regardless of ethnicity, should be referred to in an insulting manner by the government. It’s well past time to strike the legal use of this outdated term. It no longer has a place in federal law, and I look forward to the day when it’s finally gone for good.”

“‘Orientals’ is an offensive and antiquated term, especially so when referring to America’s vibrant Asian American community,” said Royce. “Using this term in federal law lends it a legitimacy it doesn’t deserve, which is why Congresswoman Meng and I have moved to remove it.”

The legislation removes all references to “Orientals” in federal law, and replaces the term with “Asian Americans.”

The Meng-Royce legislation, which was approved unanimously by voice vote, is included in the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act.

In 2009, Meng – when she was a member of the New York State Legislature – passed legislation into law that eliminated the use of “Oriental” in all official New York state documents.

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