I couldn’t be more upset at myself for only just discovering the blog A Dream Deferred. Searching through this blog I found a post titled Being Illegal Is Not A Crime were America’s mayor (who sadly became America’s anti-migrant mayor to win the Republican nomination) is interviewed by Glenn Beck (don’t get me started on him – has anyone noticed that he tries to hypnotize his audience with dancing and twirling logos on his television show) who states being an undocumented migrant is illegal. Giuliani corrects him and says that they are in fact not “illegal”.
From the video:
Beck – “but isn’t illegal immigration a crime in and of itself”
Giuliani – “no”
Beck – “but aren’t you saying….you’re protecting criminals by saying that being treated as a criminal is unfair.”
Giuliani – “Glenn, it’s not a crime (laughs). I know that’s very hard for people to understand, but it’s not a federal crime.”
Beck – “It’s a misdemeanor, but if you’ve been nailed it is a crime – if you’ve been nailed shipped back and you come back it is a crime.”
Giuliani – “Glenn, being an ‘illegal’ immigrant – the 400,000 were not prosecuted for crimes by the federal government nor could they be. I was U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York – believe me I know this. In fact when you throw an immigrant out of the country it’s not a criminal proceeding – it’s a civil proceeding.”
Beck – “Is it, is it…….”
Giuliani – “One of the things that congress wanted to do a year ago is to make it a crime which indicates that it isn’t.”
Beck – “Should it be?”
Giuliani – “Should it be? No, it shouldn’t be because the government wouldn’t be able to prosecute it. We couldn’t persecute 12 million people.”
Luckily for Beck, though, you can persecute them with nasty rhetoric.
So when someone asks “what part of ‘illegal’ don’t you understand” we can first point out that they are using the word “illegal” improperly then I can mention the fact that it is not a crime to be in the U.S. without permission.
This is definitely an area I’m hazy in, but it’s obvious that the use of the word “illegal” is meant as a crass and nasty putdown by those in the anti-migrant camp. Any time you can take a whole group of people and find one word to belittle them with it’s considered a success by the hateful. We obviously can conjure up other similar words that have been used in our country’s past in the same fashion. The only difference here is that they’re using a word that assumes criminality rather than one for which they attempt to attach negativity to.
A person more studied in linguistics could better go on about this, but I believe those of us fighting this terrible use of the word “illegal” get the point.