Rep. Grace Meng Discovered Term Still In Legal Code While Doing Research

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — President Barack Obama has signed legislation sponsored by a Queens congresswoman, which removes the term “Oriental” from federal law.

The legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) replaces the term “Oriental” with the term “Asian-Americans.” The term “Oriental” still appears in Title 42 of the U.S. Code, Meng’s office said.

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“The term ‘Oriental’ has no place in federal law and at long last this insulting and outdated term will be gone for good,” Meng said in a news release. “No longer will any law of the United States refer to Asian Americans in such an offensive way, and I applaud and thank President Obama for signing my bill to get rid of this antiquated term.

“Many Americans may not be aware that the word ‘Oriental’ is derogatory. But it is an insulting term that needed to be removed from the books, and I am extremely pleased that my legislation to do that is now the law of the land,” Meng continued.

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“Nobody, let alone the federal government, should use a hurtful term like ‘Orientals’ when referring to Americans of Asian descent,” U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and an original cosponsor of Meng’s bill, said in the release. “Our country is a rich tapestry of cultural backgrounds, and Americans of all backgrounds deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. I was proud to support Congresswoman Meng as she led the charge on this issue, and I applaud her perseverance and success.”

Title 42 of the U.S. Code deals with federal laws on public health, social welfare and civil rights. Its references to the term “Oriental,” which date back to the 1970s, are the last of two places in U.S. law where the term is used to refer to people, Meng’s office said.

The word also appears in the text of the Department of Energy Organization Act and the Local Public Works Capital Development and Investment Act of 1976, Meng’s office said.

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Meng found the term “Oriental” in Title 42 while doing routine legislative research last year, her office said.