Yep. I said it. They're not "undocumented immigrants." They're not even "illegal immigrants." Immigration connotes the concept of assimilation. Too many of those who come legally have no desire to be "immigrants" in that sense- those who are here illegally certainly do not.
A group out of Long Island is protesting the use of the word "illegal" in regards to illegal aliens. To quote one of them: "By saying illegal, they're assuming that we broke a criminal law. No everybody enters illegally."
Honey (I can say that without being sexist, 'cause I'm from Texas)? You did break a criminal law. Entering the United States without proper documentation (Visa, Passport, green-card, whatever) is a Federal Crime. It's punishable by jail time. If you came to the United States without the appropriate documentation, you're here illegally. Thus, "illegal" is exactly the right word.
Of course, this is simply a continuation of the tactic that began when they pushed to move the word 'alien' out of the discussion. They were well aware of the connotations of the word 'alien' versus the word 'immigrant.' Immigrant, all on its own, conveys a sense of legitimacy. The point is to make it impossible to talk about illegal aliens without having to jump through convoluted hoops to ensure everyone knows you're talking about actual illegals, and not legal immigrants or resident aliens.
Even there you can see that, in proper usage, there's a reason we call one "immigrants" and the other "aliens."
You know aren't lumped in with illegal aliens? Legal aliens and immigrants.
But that's not the worst part. It only stands to reason that illegal aliens would want to change the terms of the debate. As one referenced in the article remarked, the term "illegal" makes him feel "uncomfortable." Kind of like the word "criminal" probably makes criminals feel "uncomfortable." It's called guilt.
No, worse than that are their apologists. Those people who seek, for whatever motive, to shelter them from the reality that what they're doing is illegal. People like Alina Das, assistant professor of clinical law at New York University. Ms. Das is quoted thus:
"Using a phrase like 'illegal aliens' or 'illegals' . . . reinforces the notion that you could treat another individual as less than a human being," said Alina Das, assistant professor of clinical law at New York University. "One action -- whether it's a crime -- shouldn't be used to define a whole group of people or one individual." (Emphasis mine)
One wonders if she would believe the same thing- that the action should not be used to define an individual, if the subject in question was a murderer. A wife beater? A rapist? In absolute terms, a given illegal alien is probably not the kind of scum those three examples are, but some of them are. Some of them, indeed, are murderers and rapists. If you don't want to be "labelled" an illegal alien- don't be here illegally.
There's also the little bit of trickery she tries to pull here:
"It's a politically correct way of saying illegal," she said. "What you're also talking about in proper form are the real undocumented -- asylum seekers -- people who are fleeing for threats of their life or freedom."
See, those illegal aliens aren't really illegal aliens- they're seeking political asylum. Of course, the fact they've never bothered to visit an ICE office or a consulate to formally ask for asylum is just a technicality. What she overlooks is that no one is talking about asylum seekers. Just like we're not talking about aliens on H1-B visas, or immigrants who are legally seeking citizenship. The law already provides for all of those things, thus an "illegal alien" is someone who doesn't fit into one of those categories, and has entered the United States illegally.