Ever curious as I am behind the motives of PC terminology, I have been google searching the reasons why “illegal immigrants should now be called undocumented immigrants”. The basic premise of every article I have read is the same: because a person can’t be illegal – only an act can be illegal (well no shit, I never thought that was in question).
One prominent article specifically said the following:
“Illegal” is uselessly vague. (“You’re under arrest.” “What’s the charge?” “You did something illegal.”) [FULL ARTICLE]
And that made me stop dead in my tracks. The charge, sir, is ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. That would be why I used the word “immigrant” immediately following the word “illegal” when I used the phrase “illegal immigrant”. That term isn’t calling the PERSON illegal, it is calling their IMMIGRATION STATUS illegal. How base does an individual need to be not grasp the difference? I understood the concept when I was a child, I wouldn’t expect it to trip up the average adult. (BTW – according to the website: immigration.laws.com “illegal immigration” is the official term for the crime, therefore calling a perpetrator of that crime an “illegal immigrant” is not only logical, it is technically correct.)
This same article then went on to state the following as another reason:
“Illegal immigrant” is dehumanizing. Murderers, rapists, and child molesters are all legal persons who have committed illegal acts; but an otherwise law-abiding resident who doesn’t have immigration paperwork is defined as an illegal person. This disparity should offend everyone on its own merits, but there’s also a legal, constitutional problem with defining someone as an illegal person.
Am I on Candid Camera? Murder, rape, and child molestation are ALL illegal ALL OF THE TIME. Therefore, it would be redundant, offensive, and inappropriately silly to call them an illegal murderer, an illegal rapist, or an illegal child molester. But you still just referred to them as a murderer, a rapist, and a child molester, didn’t you? Because by committing the act, they are that thing. (Just as an illegal immigrant is just that, an immigrant who did so illegally.) And once you’ve been stigmatized as a criminal, ANY kind of criminal, your title follows you.
Immigration, however, is NOT illegal. Most of the time it’s a GOOD thing that opens a country up to diversity and understanding of other cultures. The United States was FOUNDED on immigration and the VAST majority of people here either immigrated or are a descendant of someone who did. And that’s pretty inspiring! Something to reflect upon and be proud of as a country.
But immigrating without following the legal protocols and being granted the necessary paperwork to enter and/or stay in the country IS illegal – calling them “undocumented” makes it sound as though it was some kind of an oversight and not a deliberate criminal act. If your issue is that you don’t feel their crime SHOULD be illegal, then focus your energies on CHANGING the immigration laws, not excusing the law-breakers with word-play.
Just because the individual in question is “an otherwise law-abiding resident” does not make their illegal act any less illegal – implying otherwise “should offend everyone”. It’s very important to designate the difference, because not only is it illegal, it’s NOT FAIR to all of the people who did it the LEGAL way who don’t deserve to be lumped into the same category as CRIMINALS. (Did you forget about the legal immigrants? If you’re so concerned with hurting everyone’s feelings, don’t their feelings deserve your concern? Isn’t it a travesty that in this day and age it even be necessary to add the word “legal” in front of the word “immigrant”? Why aren’t you on your soapbox about that?!)
Is illegally immigrating even close to the same level of crime as murder, rape, or child molestation? FUCK NO! But who ever said it was? Why would you try to compare a violent crime to a regulatory infraction?! Not only does one NOT negate the other, it’s completely ludicrous!
Example: “Hey man, It’s offensive to call that guy a jaywalker! He illegally crossed the street; he didn’t beat a guy to death with a pipe! Calling someone a jaywalker is racist because it is generally perceived as an urban traffic safety problem.”
Is jaywalking on the same level as murder, rape, or child molestation? NO! It’s generally considered one of the least significant crimes a person can commit. BUT IT’S STILL ILLEGAL, AND SOMEONE WHO BREAKS THAT LAW IS STILL A JAYWALKER!! Is there no common sense left in the world?!
This article then wrapped up its list of reasons with the following:
It’s contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment, which affirms that neither the federal government nor state governments may “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” An undocumented immigrant has violated immigration requirements, but is still a legal person under the law, as is anyone under the jurisdiction of the law. The equal protection clause was written to prevent state governments from defining any human being as anything less than a legal person.
How does referring to a person as a perpetrator of a crime take away their equal protection under the law?! How does referring to a person as ANYTHING take away their equal protection under the law?! WORDS ARE NOT ILLEGAL! Equal protection of the laws means that you have a right to emergency medical care, that you have a right to enter and utilize public establishments if you follow all rules of use, and that if another person causes you harm by breaking a law, that the police investigate the crime and that if sufficient evidence of that crime is found – the person who broke the law is prosecuted for it. None of these things are stripped from a human being by referring to them as a phrase. I can call them “inhuman goat-raping piles of crap who don’t deserve the right to breathe” and tell them “I hope you get AIDS and die a miserable painful death” and I haven’t taken away their equal protection of the law… but somehow you think I have by calling them an “illegal immigrant”? Really??
In short, if I didn’t think this particular PC term was pointless and intelligence lowering before doing my research… I sure do now.