Joyce Craig supports a ban on illegal aliens.

No, not a ban on illegal immigrants or communities that provide them sanctuary. Craig is offended by the term “illegal alien.”

The former Manchester mayor told WMUR’s Adam Sexton the acceptable phrase is “‘undocumented individuals,’ and we need to make sure that we are treating everyone with the utmost respect, no matter who they are.”

Asked by Sexton if she “considers the term ‘illegal alien’ — which is a federal legal term — to be offensive,” Craig replied, “I do.”



The phrase “illegal alien” appears more than 30 times in the U.S. Code section covering federal immigration law. It has also appeared in every U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the matter, including during the Ruth Bader Ginsburg era.

And former U.S. Department of Justice attorney for the civil rights division, Hans Von Spakovsky, wrote, “Under federal law, any individual in this country who is not a citizen is an alien. And any alien who is here without permission is here illegally. End of story.”

The debate over the phrase hit New Hampshire politics in March when state Sen. Becky Whitley (D-Hopkinton) called out her Republican colleagues for using the term during a debate over driver’s licenses and illegal immigrants in the Granite State.

“I have to take umbrage with the use of the term ‘illegal alien,’” Whitley said. “It’s not a term that’s grounded in an individual’s humanity. An ‘individual who is undocumented’ is a more humane way to refer to these folks…. I think we have an obligation to use terms that recognize people’s humanity.”

Whitley is now one of the two announced candidates in the Democratic primary to replace U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster in the Second Congressional District.

The two Republicans running for governor called Craig out over her “ludicrous” and “insulting” stance.

“We need to call it like it is,” said Chuck Morse. “If someone breaks the law by entering this country illegally, they are an ‘illegal alien.’ To use any other term is insulting to the millions of individuals who have come to this country to become American citizens legally through the proper channels.”

Kelly Ayotte, who has made Craig’s views on sanctuary cities a centerpiece of her campaign, said it’s an issue of leadership.

“Joyce Craig lacks the strength and resolve necessary to be our next governor. Joyce is afraid to say that individuals who broke our laws and came into our country illegally should be identified as such,” Ayotte said. “As a former prosecutor and attorney general, I find that ludicrous. As governor, I will always call it like I see it and will do everything within my power to protect our citizens from the impacts of the border crisis.”

Asked about state cooperation in enforcing federal immigration laws, Craig told WMUR she has no problem with state law enforcement working with the feds. However, she reiterated her opposition to a ban on sanctuary cities in New Hampshire currently working its way through the legislature.

“In Manchester, I supported [sic] the anti-sanctuary-city policy, along with law enforcement and police chiefs across the state,” Craig said in a minor misspeaking moment. “Law enforcement believes that doing that, implementing that policy, would impact public safety in a negative way and erode trust within our residents. So that’s wrong.”

In the WMUR interview, Craig also reaffirmed her support for taxpayer-funded elective abortions and a ban on the sale of so-called “assault weapons.” And while she believes it should be illegal for an adult to buy an AR-15 rifle, she supports allowing children to undergo permanent, irreversible “gender reassignment” surgery.

“We need to make sure that our children are working with their parents, communicating with their parents, and the decision needs to be between them and their doctor,” Craig told WMUR.

She also opposes a state law preventing male athletes who identify as female from playing on girls-only sports teams.

“We need to focus on supporting the LGBTQ and trans students in our state, not causing a divide,” Craig said.