Is the term “illegal alien” racist? What is the appropriate term to describe the status of those who broke our laws either by illegally entering or over-staying the time allowed under a student, work or other temporary permit?
Cindy Rodriguez of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists considers the term “illegal” to be a pejorative, used by “reactionary commentators and politicians” and “radio talk shows.”
“If you can control the words people use,” Rodriguez says, “you can frame the issue… That’s how propaganda works. Repeat the words continually until it reshapes the way people think.”
Attorney Gloria Allred represented gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman’s Mexican-born housekeeper. Allred said the term “alien” should apply only to those “from outer space.”
The term “illegal alien” does not only apply, of course, to persons of Mexican or Hispanic heritage. “Illegal alien” is a race- and ethnicity-neutral term. The U.S. Code defines an “alien” as “any person not a citizen or national of the United States.”
The word “alien” appears numerous times in the U.S. Code and is applied to those who live here legally (tourists, resident aliens, students on visas), as well as to those who live here illegally.
The term “illegal alien” is used throughout U.S. law in statutes and court cases – all referring to non-U.S. citizens who illegally enter and/or unlawfully stay here. The code painstakingly defines the procedures to grant “immigrant status” to an alien – a privilege reserved for those who follow the law.
Guess what term doesn’t appear in U.S. immigration law? “Illegal immigrant.”
People like Rodriguez worry – not without reason – that terms like “illegal alien” will harden attitudes and cause voters to oppose policies like the Dream Act, allowing driver’s licenses for those here illegally and bilingual education. But changing words to advance one’s political agenda does not make it right or fair. Calling people “racist” for using the term “illegal alien” to distinguish between those here legally and illegally is, well, racist.
Words matter. Words like “racist” and “anti-Hispanic” are used to attack people who raise fair questions about the costs and problems associated with “illegal aliens.” This shuts down debate. When amnesty opponent Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a Hispanic son of Cuban exiles, is called “anti-Hispanic” by the CEO of Univision, we have a problem.
Debate gets shuts down when “comprehensive immigration reform” proponents call others “racist” for rejecting the politically correct term “illegal immigrant” or “undocumented worker.” What is wrong with the legally accurate and more precise term “illegal alien”?
Guess that makes me a racist – and Sen. Rubio a Tio Taco.
article at http://www.dailynews.com/columnists/ci_19831379