New York City Council Passed a Law to Ban the Terms “Alien” and “Illegal Immigrant”

Student/advocates demand College of Staten Island & CUNY fire adjunct professor/councilmember Joe Borelli after calling former student “alien”.

STATEN ISLAND, NY — Just few days ago, the New York City Council passed a law to ban the terms “alien” and “illegal immigrant” from official documents and communication. Last night Yareli Garcia, a former College of Staten Island student, heard about the vote and reached out to advocates about a disturbing 2017 incident she experienced with adjunct professor and Councilmember Joseph Borelli, who voted against the bill, when she was taking his spring semester political science course.
“During a debate about voting rights, I disclosed that I didn’t have citizenship so I couldn’t vote in this country. The conversation continued without incident until he disclosed that he was adopted and found out about it through a DNA test. I responded that that was an interesting to way to find out,” said Ms Garcia. Garcia states that Borelli turned to her and said, “at least I am not an ‘alien’ like you.” She was shocked and embarrassed.

Republican New York Councilmember Joseph Borelli.

She did not report it in 2017 because she believed “she had no power as a student over a professor and Republican politician.” In February 2020, she thought it was not appropriate for the City University of New York (CUNY) system to allow Mr. Borelli to teach at the college while making derogatory remarks about immigrant students. She heard of other students making the same complaint. She made a report to her scholarship advisor and the Interim Chief Diversity Officer Catherine M. Ferrara. There was no action that she knows against the Councilmember.
As a result, Ms. Garcia and Yesenia Mata, executive director of La Colmena, an immigrant rights organization on Staten Island are calling for CUNY and the College of Staten Island to immediately terminate any relationship with Councilmember Borelli.
“Now we see why Borelli voted against a bill that prohibits toxic and dehumanizing language like ‘alien’ and ‘illegal immigrant’ from being used in New York City,” said Ms. Mata. “If CSI and CUNY want to affirm their commitment to diversity and respect at a time where racism and hatred continues to be exposed and recorded, these public institutions should fire and never employ Mr. Borelli or anyone as professors who use language that demeans their students.”
Mr. Borelli’s official website states that he has taught at the College of Staten Island since 2008.

About Ramón Jiménez

Ramón Jiménez, Managing Editor de MetroLatinoUSA.Com (MLN). Graduado de la Escuela de Periodismo de la Universidad del Distrito de Columbia (UDC). Email:

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