LETTER: Common term “immigrant” blurs the issue

Here is another example of the linguistic and unfair characterizations put upon undocumented workers in this country. Further to this this letter to the editor claims there is not “anti-immigration movement” in this country. I think this person should do a little more research because there is indeed an anti-immigration movement. When a group claiming they are against illegal immigration focuses all their attention on Hispanics they are asking that no Hispanics be allowed in the country as migrants. Additionally groups like Numbers USA, a huge group often mentioned at anti-immigrant rallies, is absolutely against immigration and is seeking to reduce immigration as much as possible.

LETTER: Common term “immigrant” blurs the issue

However, what I am specifically concerned about in Rev. Fallon’s piece and other opinion pieces I have read from other individuals is their use of the term “immigrants” when referring to people who are not in our country legally.

People who enter our country illegally are not “immigrants”; they are “illegal immigrants.”

Also, there is no “anti-immigration movement” in the United States, though there is what could be called an “anti-illegal immigration movement.” This anti-illegal immigration movement would be composed of United States citizens from all ethnicities who agree in principle that people coming in from other countries must come into the United States through legal channels.

The truth of the matter linguistically is that the term immigrant does not include a caveat of legality. Though I use the term “illegal immigrant” in this blog it is not really a good term to use for people in this country without proper documentation. What adjective should be used before immigrant for those that sailed here from England?

Here’s a good write-up from a blog titled “Mother Tongue Annoyances” on the use of the adjective “illegal.”

On the “Illegal Alien”
How are you doing? Today I’d like to examine the term “illegal alien” and why its use bothers me so darned much.

Let’s be vulnerable and deeply honest with each other, okay? How often do you hear Americans use the term illegal alien with some discernible trace of prejudice and/or racism? Can you detect any shades of hypernationalism and/or ethnocentrism in this usage?

Speaking for myself, I am disappointed whenever I listen to news commentary or participate in a personal discussion and an individual refers to undocumented immigrants as “illegals” or “illegal aliens.” I’m not saying that (a) I can ‘read’ people’s motivations without asking them directly; or (b) The majority of those who use the term “illegal alien” do so with conscious or unconscious prejudicial intent. – full post

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One thought on “LETTER: Common term “immigrant” blurs the issue

  1. What adjective should be used before immigrant for those that sailed here from England?
    What adjective should be used before immigrant for those that sailed to South America and Mexico from Spain?
    South America and Mexico has immigration laws too. If a US citizen goes into Mexico illegaly and stays then they are an “Illegal Alien” in Mexico! They will not be welcomed with free social services for commiting crimes against Mexico’s immigration laws.

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