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Is Illegal Alien or Illegal Immigrant\Resident a Slur Term?
For many, a slur word is derogatory, like using "wetback" to define an illegal immigrant who arrived across the border via illegally. The word illegal implies that they are criminals. But, are they criminals of the same class as a drug dealer? rapist? pedophile? murderer? I don't think so. They are not criminals in the criminal system, only in the lesser category of civil law, like, when you promise to pay a speeding ticket, yet fail to, or staying in the US after your Visa expired.
Using the word "illegal alien or immigrant" can also be looked upon as a simple statement of fact. The person crossed the border in some way other than going through official methods, therefore, he has no proper documentation and is thus, illegal. The are immigrants and are aliens (non-citizens). Some think the term is a hateful word. Well, okay, it is America and people have the freedom of expression.
The U.S. Supreme Court said this, "As a general rule, it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States." The court also ruled that it was not a crime to seek or engage in unauthorized employment. True, not a crime under the Criminal Code, but it is under the Civil Code, which is seldom enforced much, so the Court was correct. In a study of news reports in a ten year period, journalists used the terms "illegal alien or immigrant" 89% of the time.
So, why do some Hispanics think it is a slur? It is certainly better and more accurate than "wetback". It is what it is, an accurate description of their status. Maybe they are simply getting a little overly sensitive about it. Its not like they do not know its illegal. They all know the consequences of getting caught - deported back home so they can try again!