Don't Like the Word Illegal? Don't Break the Law!
The Rule of Law?
What Do You Call Illegal Immigrants?
According to a Fox News poll, nearly half of Latino voters do not approve of the terms "illegal alien" or "illegal immigrant." Is it just the term that offends them? Are any of them offended that they became citizens through legal channels and others simply appropriated the benefits illegally? After all, if those polled were voters, they must be legal citizens—or at least I hope so. We may never know, since the federal government is determined to keep states from checking.
I can understand young people, brought here illegally when they were children, objecting to being labeled "illegal." After all, it was their parents who broke the law. Much like the "illegitimate" label, children are given labels based on their parents' bad behavior. While "illegal" and "illegitimate" are accurate terms in a court of law and in legal documents, it is unfortunate that young adults who grew up in America are not legal citizens because their parents didn't care enough to think of their futures when they originally broke our immigration laws. It is also unfortunate that the law was not enforced in time to prevent those children from spending their entire childhoods in legal limbo.
Words Mean Things
- George Orwell: Politics and the English Language
Politics and the English Language, the essay of George Orwell. First published: April 1946 by/in Horizon, GB, London
- Aldous Huxley on how we use language to suppress and distort war's realities
Words Have Meanings
Changing the words used to describe something does not change the nature of the thing being described. Euphemisms might make some people feel better, but using a prettier term does not change an ugly problem that needs a real solution.
I strenuously object to the term "undocumented immigrant" because it is not as accurate a term as "illegal immigrant." "Undocumented" makes it seem like "Oops! I misplaced those pesky documents again," when in fact some people don't have documents because they did not enter the United States legally or they overstayed their temporary visas. We do not call shoplifters "customers without receipts." We call them thieves because that is the legal truth of the matter. Perhaps a more accurate term for illegal immigrants would be "international trespasser."
The Sad Consequences of Lawbreaking
If people do not want the word "illegal" attached to their names, there is a solution. Obey the law. For those who complain that following the law is too hard, I say, "Tough!" This is America, where most of us follow an unbelievable number of laws and regulations every day. We follow the laws because, in this great country, we have the freedom to vote and petition and change laws as needed. As for children who are the victims of their parents' illegal decisions, I do pity them. At the same time, I hate a system that will reward those lawbreaking parents with citizenship through chain immigration if their children, when they become adults, go through the effort to become citizens.The parents should have done that for their children in the first place. They could have saved everyone a lot of trouble.
Salazar, C. (2012, March 8). "Almost Half of Latino Voters Find "Illegal Immigrant" Offensive, Says Poll. Fox News Latino. Retrieved March 9, 2012, from http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/03/08/almost-half-latinos-feel-term-illegal-immigrant-is-offensive/?test=latestnews
A Few More Links
I wrote a bit about immigration in one of my blogs. The Federation for American Immigration Reform has an informative article on the characteristics of legal immigrants that readers should also check out.