Judicial Watch • Illegal Immigration and Government Semantics

Illegal Immigration and Government Semantics

Illegal Immigration and Government Semantics

AUGUST 14, 2006

Should criminals be allowed to choose the terminology by which they are described? Convict, thief – these individuals have no choice but to accept their descriptive fate. Why is it then that those who enter the U.S. illegally are suddenly given rights to choose the terminology that describes them? Semantics, yet again, are making government action slow and cloudy. The running debate over the terms “illegal alien” versus “undocumented worker” take away from the actual issue- that these people have committed a crime and should deal with the consequences. It is not a humanitarian issue. It is a legal issue.

Activists and illegals alike are calling the term “illegal alien” equal to the use of the “n-word” to describe African American citizens. This claim is outrageous – these people ARE illegal. It has been deemed “politically incorrect” and dehumanizing to use the technically correct term for those who flout U.S. law and demand rights as U.S. citizens. The truth is, however – politically incorrect or not – they are here illegally. Victor Davis Harrison, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution said, “A good comparison would be to say a bank robber simply made an unauthorized withdrawal.” It is a game of words, forcing legislators to choose between humanitarianism and law, instead of deciding how to deal with criminal action.

Even the U.S. Government can’t decide term to use. The U.S. Census Bureau insists on using the term “undocumented” while other agencies use the appropriate term “illegal.” President Bush has gone so far as to use the term “citizen,” which is absolutely inaccurate given their status in this country. Until the government can decide what to call those who enter our country in a criminal fashion, there will be continued bitter debate over what to do with them. Soft terms, such as “undocumented” are misleading. Would simply providing documents make their presence legitimate? Socially correct terms, like “illegal” suggest the obvious solution of removing them from our society until they can enter it legally.

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