The Term "Illegal Immigrant": Yay or Nay?

Categories: Morning Poll
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The term "illegal immigrant" has been the cause of some controversy, as some people and media outlets have changed their tones on whether it's offensive.

The Associated Press recently decided it's not using the phrase and the New York Times said yesterday that it's encouraging reporters to "consider alternatives" to the phrase, but some folks, like Governor Jan Brewer, still love the term.

See also:
-Jan Brewer's Nonsense Explanation of Why She Uses the Phrase "Illegal Immigrants"

"When you break the law, you're doing something illegal, that makes you an illegal, so they are illegal immigrants," the governor who was arrested for DUI told ABC News.

Her other explanation sucked even more.

"Well, I'm sorry, but, you know, I believe that if you break the law, and you're an illegal immigrant, and you're in this country illegally, and you are an illegal immigrant," she said.

The phrase is meant to describe a person who entered or stayed in the country in an illegal fashion, but detractors say that it defines the person as illegal -- especially when people are called "illegals" -- and feel it's derogatory.

Let's hear from you: yay or nay on "illegal immigrant"?

Cast your vote below:



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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.



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29 comments
Jeff Kee
Jeff Kee

They are not immigrants the are undocumented workers that pay taxes.

Marco Cruz
Marco Cruz

What does mexico label the immigrants who invade from south america whom they do not want in their country illegally?

robert_graham
robert_graham

Call an illegal alien what they are - an illegal alien. Calling an illegal alien an undocumented immigrant is like calling a drug dealer an unlicensed pharmacist.

MeMo Ortega
MeMo Ortega

i have only found it offencive when used in the wrong tone

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

The problem, of course, is that if people continue to think of them as "illegal", it's difficult to accept any sort of immigration compromise that includes amnesty.

In reality, I believe that there will have to be such a compromise, and I have no problem with amnesty for people who have been in the country for many years, have learned the language, have no criminal record, and have steady jobs.

sarum
sarum

Learning English is difficult enough.   Changing the most simple direct term because of the sensibilities of a few makes it all that more difficult.   Furthermore it is designed to enrage the sensibilities of a majority who see that they have been harmed by our governments failure to honor the Constitution they are bound by.  Reminiscent of "Newspeak" in "1984" by George Orwell. 

We must all remember that any one of us could acquire illegal alien status quite easily and they do have a valid point that making humans "illegal" is wrong and in the battle against the corporatocracy this is a concept we can all make use of.  IOW I do agree with the concept underlying but illegal alien status is not a victimless crime.  The causal factors ARE crimes and forcing victims of illegal immigration to pay in order to compensate for those crimes is yet again another crime.  

So my vote is KISS - keep it simple stupid.  We have bigger things to deal with.

Brian Gosnell
Brian Gosnell

It is not offensive. The historical term "WETBACK" from Operation Wetback from the 40's may be?

nojailforyou1
nojailforyou1

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, (INA) and the supporting Immigration Act of 1990 there is no legal definition for "illegal immigrant".

For INA purposes, an "alien" is any person who is not a citizen or a national of the United States. There are different categories of aliens: resident and nonresident, immigrant and nonimmigrant, documented and undocumented ("illegal" ). There is not a category for "illegal immigrant".

Maggie Shaw
Maggie Shaw

It reminds me of when my daughter came to me when she was around 12 and asked me if she was a illegitimate child. Apparently someone had called her that at school. I told her as far as I could tell she was legitimately a child. When we use certain labels for people...human beings..we diminish our own relevance.

TaxpayingVoter
TaxpayingVoter

I don't know why what people call them matters.

I'm more concerned about how people TREAT them.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

I don't know why anyone would be particularly incensed by the terms "illegal alien" or "illegal immigrant." Both accurately describe one such person's legal status. "Undocumented" isn't a nicer way of putting it.

yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

The term correctly describes the activity or person involved in the activity.  If that person is offended by the use of the term, perhaps it will motivate them to change their activity. 

Political Correctness should never trump honesty and integrity. 

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

Do a google search for "legal immigrant" and see how many liberal media outlets use it routinely.

If there are "legal immigrants", then it stands to reason that there are "illegal immigrants".

It's human nature to shorten words and phrases, either by dropping words, shortening words, or using initials. Since "I.I." would be awkward, "illegal immigrant" is often shortened to "illegal".

It may be damaging to the dignity of illegals, but how much dignity do they really deserve for breaking the law?  They made the choice.  They need to accept the consequences.

Mary Doe
Mary Doe

Personally I do not find it 'offensive,' more like 'inaccurate' and 'misleading.'

Mary Doe
Mary Doe

....and that's why we breed idiots for export. Jan Brewer is a dumb-sphere star to rival Palin for a reason - we have a lot of people of the similar mental capacity. No argument works on them: not that it is grammatically incorrect, not that it is incorrect from the legal standpoint, not the common sense. So, thank you, Roger and Tony for illustrating the point.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

Contrast it to the term "felon."  When someone commits a felony, we say that the person is a felon.  We define the person - often times forever - by the act that he or she committed.  And that is a dictionary-defined, accepted term.   And it applies even if the person committed a single, discrete felony act many years ago.  So yes, it is accepted that we define people by their conduct, especially when their conduct is in violation of the law.   A person who has entered this county in violation of federal law has enterred the country illegally and their continued presence in this country remains illegal.  If we are willing to continue calling someone who was convicted of a felony 10 years ago and hasn't violated the law since a "felon," then it seems fair to refer to someone who violated the law by enterring illegally and continues to remain in the country illegally as an "illegal alien."  Further, the term "illegal alien" is very specific in describing the illegal conduct, which the term "felon" does not. 

Leanna Schultz
Leanna Schultz

It is not offensive. It is a term, it isn't meant to put someone down. They are immigrants who came here illegally so what's the boohoo over the term?

Tony Vasquez
Tony Vasquez

It's the correct term... so I say 'nay'. Their's a right way and a wrong way to go about obtaining citizenship in our country, those who chose to do this without proper legal means and with disregard to american law , thats an 'illegal immigrant'

Mahatma Hemry
Mahatma Hemry

This should be why is it offensive. To not take offense at the statement is a statement.

Tommy_Collins
Tommy_Collins

In the pure sense of the word there should not be anything deemed inappropriate with using 'illegal immigrant' to describe someone who has entered our country illegally. It's simply a term. Nothing more. 

When used by some detractors, such as Mrs. Brewer, to constantly chide and disparage the people who have committed that illegal act of immigrating without authority, there becomes a sense of negativity that attaches with the term, "illegal immigrant". 

That said, it's only negative if the listener or reader infers it as being such.

When I hear or read that someone like Mrs. Brewer uses that term I do infer it as being negative toward the PERSONS involved, rather than the act.

Using Mrs. Brewer's understanding of the term then she and her husband and at least one of her children are all "illegals", in their very own right, as described by her. 

Stretching this application even further, since we can assume that at some time Mrs. Brewer's ancestors must have immigrated to the United States, she too is a defacto illegal immigrant, by default. 

Of course, when thinking about Mrs. Brewer, I come up with a plethora of other terms immediately, all of which may be appropriate by description, but not publicly appropriate by application. 

I hope this helps.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

Please SOMBODY, put some super glue in the bitches lipstick.

robert_graham
robert_graham

@valleynative If you've got no problem then I guess you wouldn't have a problem with your job being given to an illegal alien.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@nojailforyou1  I don't think the discussion was about whether or not the term is the correct legally-recognized classification.  It's whether or not it's a valid English language term.  And, of course it is.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@shadeaux14  Which bitches are you talking about?  I assume one of them is Brewer.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

@JoeArpaioFan  As I said, these would be people who already have steady jobs, so they wouldn't be taking mine away from me.  If they didn't have to worry about being reported to immigration, employers wouldn't be able to get away with underpaying them, and if you really can't compete with an illegal on a level playing field, you should consider going back to school.

sarum
sarum

@valleynative Many have steady jobs supplemented by steady Food Snap, Section 8 housing, Medicaid, etc.  When we are told that this will be good for the economy I presumed because they would be counted and no longer paid better than citizens (by virtue of access to social safety net that citizens struggling to survive on same wages are denied . . . but no, on further examination the qualifications applied to any other "immigrant" in this regard will still not apply to this group.  We cannot afford it and even if I do agree that it is the right thing to do - NOT until full employment of citizens and no more belittling those who wanted and needed those jobs (and once held them) - not everybody is built for school.  They still need to eat regardless of whether they are college material or not.  As a born here citizen they still should have first shot at the job and the job needs to pay a living wage.  The proposed legislation will bring in huge numbers of H1b, many of whom are not burdened with the student loan debt citizens have - so even well educated WILL be displaced.

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