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For the Love of God, Please Stop Calling Them “Illegal Immigrants”

Updated on February 15, 2014
My grandmother was an immigrant in the early 1900s
My grandmother was an immigrant in the early 1900s | Source

Legal Immigration

I wonder why other groups of people who break laws are not labeled with the perquisite of the word "illegal." How often do you see something like “illegal speeders," "illegal farmers," "illegal drinkers," and "illegal smokers," etc.? How come the word is married to the immigration issue and nothing else? Have you ever heard of people having an immigration debate without someone throwing around the word "illegal"? How did the "i" word become part of the public description, and why are people so mad about this issue?

Most everyone living in the United States has a history of emigration/immigration in their families. My father’s family had the typical immigrant experience of the earlier 1900s. They lived near a small town in the cradle of Mount Vesuvius in Italy. They escaped their town as the volcano erupted and they were all burned by the hot ashes in the air. Like most Italians of that time they came through Ellis Island and tried to scrape out a life in New York. The officials looked them over for a day to check them for infectious disease, checked their name to see if it was too complicated and needed to be changed, and then they were set loose. That was the entire "legal" immigration process. When your family came over "legally" they probably had the same quick and easy process.

These days the legal immigration issue is ridiculous and a nightmare. I hear people say all the time, I have no problem with immigrants who came over "legally." Or they say, “My family came over legally and so should they.” Most folks have no clue how difficult and expensive the process is now. Depending on what country you are coming from, it can now take 10-20 years of waiting and $10,000-$30,000 dollars each. The barrier to entry is much more difficult and you have to grease the right palms if you want to wait less than a decade. No wonder so many people just come into this country without permission. If I were in their shoes I would be doing the same thing.

Sign at the border
Sign at the border | Source

Media Personalities' Opinions

Radio host Brian Hagen stated: “It feels like Stockholm Syndrome to me. My family had to jump through all these ridiculous arbitrary hoops so everyone else should too. I don’t hear anyone saying, 'Hey, let's just get rid of these invasive laws.'”

He went on to say, “I love how hung-up everyone is on this word 'illegal.' It justifies being openly racist to Mexicans and Arabs. If you want to find out if someone is really a racist you just ask them this. If a law were passed tomorrow making all the immigrants legal, would you still have a beef with them? If they say yes, then they have a problem with brown people, not their legal status. A lot folks are just latching onto the whole legal argument so they can hide their bigotry.”

Mary Pomeoy posted, "Ask yourself why just the Canadians get that kind of 'special' treatment. It will boil down to the same, that is to say, white. They aren't brown and they speak English, so they're good to go, or stay, as the case would be."

Host of the radio show Freedom Feens said, “The recent right-wing freak out over that Super Bowl commercial reminds me of why I've never liked everything surrounding football, even though I have no issue with the sport itself.

When I was a kid, the kids who beat me up for being weird played football. As an adult, every day in the past few months, I've had radio station programmers tell me 'I'd like to put The Freedom Feens on my station. But I can't talk now, we're busy with Football. Call me after the Super Bowl, then we can talk.'"


Unchecked Immigration

The problem with "unchecked immigration" is government giveaways. Take away welfare (for the individual, the corporation, the farmer, and the rancher) and I don't care who comes into America.

Actually, the problem with "unchecked immigration" is government. If I were the anarchy president of America, I'd gladly trade ten million Democrat and Republican American voters for ten million liberty-minded gay Muslim Mexican workers from any nation.

When I asked Hagen about the welfare money for immigrants, he said, “The other major issue anti-immigration supporters have is that they are stuck paying for healthcare and welfare to immigrant families. Employers still have to collect taxes out of their paychecks. Many of the day laborers I’ve seen still have to pay into social security taxes, which they will never get to use. I think this is actually a problem with welfare that got muddied with immigration. Most folks have a real problem with having their money taken from them via tax dollar to be redistributed to others: the idea that government knows how better to spend your money than you do. Many people call taxes outright theft; forced charity is not charity. I personally disagree with all forms of welfare including to immigrants. If welfare stopped to everyone, all that would come here is hard-working families who want to make a better life for their families. I want those kind of new neighbors all day long.”

Arizona restaurant brings back Jim Crow style signs.
Arizona restaurant brings back Jim Crow style signs. | Source

Dehumanizing Aspects

Other folks focus on the dehumanizing aspect of it. Almost all tyrannical governments create a bad guy so they can convince their residents to give up their civil liberties. This country is no different; they need to manufacture a boogie man so they can draw focus away from what they are really doing. There is a long line of acceptable groups to pass laws and discriminate against. First it was American Indians, then the African, Scottish, Germans, Jews, Irish, Italians, Asians, and currently it’s "patriotic" to dislike Arabs and Mexicans. Once the government creates a new enemy, it can get floods of money to control their “illegal immigrants.” That’s why the word illegal is married to immigrant. The government created this propaganda campaign to grab money and power. It is a long, predictable, tested method that the public keeps falling for.

Attorney Joseph Malouf said, “The worst casualty of the use of the term 'illegal' when talking about immigrants is the American Dream which once stood a symbol of hope. When describing a human being as an 'illegal' let us not forget that we are calling the individual something in our language used to describe an undesired or violent act. I do not think that these children (new Americans) will soon forget what harmful words we created to describe them. It brings America down not up as the rest of the world watches the Land of the Free oppress a few.”


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    • profile image

      Kiran 3 years ago

      You definitely shuold have put some bait in your most recent media-related post, maybe something like: like noble immigrants struggling to evade the INS, bloggers struggle to get acceptance from bigger media sources.

    • profile image

      jmac 3 years ago

      Illegal means not here legally. Immigrant means "came from another country". In the name of God, what the hell are you talking about? Every other country requires proof that you can pay your way when you want to move there, in the form of bank account, pension, etc. Illegal aliens should get in line, after the other people from Germany, Jamaica, Denmark. Italy. Illegal is illegal.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 3 years ago from Corona, California.

      Illegal is exactly that, ILLEGAL. Is there a prettier word you would like to use? Greg.

    • profile image 3 years ago

      HSchindler, You are so far from the truth and facts and an uninformed bleeding heart. Can you liberals use any other word beside "Racist and Bigot?"

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      I share your sentiments regarding the term "illegal immigrants". It is simply a derogatory term used by the Far Right to demonize these workers. They have worked hard here for years doing jobs Americans will not do. The system has become too onerous to come over here legally. It is also mostly racism whether they agree with that or not. Excellent Hub, Tarrin.

    • willrodgers profile image

      willrodgers 3 years ago from Deerfield Beach, Florida

      why are all you Liberals so uptight about the use of the word "Illegal" it simply means a person who has acted against or disobeyed the law. Hell, I can go online and google any of your names and find all about any "Illegal" Activity you have been involved in. Yet "Undocumented" or "Illegal non-citizens "don't have the same problem because they are here illegally. They can commit crimes and will never be reported or deported It is a bad situation for a country who prides itself as a Nation of Laws. Most third world countries are virtually lawless. Do you you want that here???

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 3 years ago from Corona, California.

      I have nothing against immigration. But there is a difference between legal and illegal immigration. If they have nothing to hide then why can't they do it legally like so many of our forefathers did? Most of them can't say it costs to much to do it legally because so many pay thousands of dollars to be brought across without permission or they sneak drugs across to pay their way. That's my opinion, Greg

    • willrodgers profile image

      willrodgers 3 years ago from Deerfield Beach, Florida

      Mr. Lupo, the early immigration issues you imagine center around the prejudice immigrants experienced after proper entry into the US. Ellis Island rejected a number of immigrants from entering. Why can't we do the same today? Please see my Hub about the diseases these people are bringing to the US. In some states like CA, it is getting to epedemic proportions, so look at all issues concerning immigrants. USCIS and the StateDept Vet all [legal] immigrants for criminal background, disease and the ability to support themselves once they arrive. The millions who just cross the boarder are a great unknown and a great financial burden to the US. Also they are a threat to the health of the US. I want my family protected from diseases once wiped out in the US. These people are briging back once dormant diseases, This is not a prejudice issue, it is a health and common sense issue. Follow the law and you will not be tagged as "Illegal".

    • profile image

      Mo Hemby 4 years ago

      Personally I don't hold it against the criminal immigrants for wanting to be here and work here, I do! I do take offense to the way they are coming in and most of my anger is against the government and their REFUSAL to secure our borders for the past 40 years. The unfair comeptition I had to deal with in my CHOSEN proffession was unbearable and eventually cost me my business. At one time I had 6 employees and year after year I was losing business and letting employees go. I got to where I started 25 years earlier with just me and less and less jobs that would accept my bid (I was told twice white people charge to much). I was always middle of the road with my bids and pricing structure so it wasn't my price that kept me from working it was the notion that they charged less because they don't have to pay taxes....when, in fact, they were charging the SAME per hour I was!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I hate the term "illegal aliens" as applied to people. It sounds as if they are not even human beings. I have seen prejudism in my days and hoped that it would have an end to it by now. However, evil knows no end and I suppose we will always have to battle those who have narrow acceptance and tolerance of others, no matter what race. Funny, my family settled in California years ago -- perhaps the first settlers there from Spain. Today the culture is rich in spanish history, yet the people seem to have forgotten who laid the foundation for their success.

    • Annette Hendley profile image

      Annette Hendley 4 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      Live and let live. Immigration is a huge issue in the UK as well. I have to ask if those photos are still used ones or did you just use them to enhance your point?

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 years ago from Brazil

      I believe that most people who come over, work harder than the current residents. They do more over-time because they are flexible where others aren't. They do the jobs the others don't want.

      I think what people don't like is their own lives and want someone to blame.

      This is just another knee jerk reaction instead of looking at facts.

      It is about time people stopped jumping on the bandwagon and opened their eyes.

      Great hub.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      My great-grandfather was an Irish immigrant who changed his name to make it more American-sounding. The family was regularly visited by the sherriff about their legal status and paperwork. For years now, our home has displayed an antique sign dated 1911 that reads, "HELP WANTED. No Irish Need Apply." It is a reminder of where we came from.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Very interesting article.