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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Political/War Lounge > "Illegal" vs. "Undocumented" Immigrant

"Illegal" vs. "Undocumented" Immigrant
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OAW
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Apr 2, 2013, 05:57 PM
 
The Associated Press, a news cooperative which licenses its stories to organizations across the country, is changing its long-standing style entry concerning undocumented immigrants, which it has referred to as “illegal immigrants” up until now.

“The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person,” said senior vice president and executive editor Kathleen Carroll. “Instead, it tells users that “illegal” should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.”

The term has long been an issue of contention by activists like former journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who is undocumented and joined others in railing against the Associated Press and others who continued to use what they felt was outdated terminology.

Tony Hernandez, the founder of Immigrant Archive Project (IAP), which documents the stories of immigrants, says he welcomes the change.

“Words are mere vessels for meaning, and this particular term, in my opinion has been used to victimize by suggesting ‘criminality,’” he said. “The fact remains that immigration violations are considered civil offenses — no different from a parking violation, yet we would never consider the term “illegal drivers.”
He said it’s time the country moves away from “illegal immigrant” the way it did from words describing mental disabilities and sexual preference.


In September, Vargas spoke in front of a gathering of journalists at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco where he equated using the word “illegal” to describe an immigrant, to days long since past when women were identified by their marriage status and when gay individuals mentioned in stories were described by their sexual preference.

Many took to Twitter to cheer the decision by the Associated Press, echoing the common refrain from advocates that “no human being is illegal.” The National Council of La Raza tweeted, “Well done!” in sharing the news.

The Associated Press did not say it supports using the word undocumented, however.
AP drops “illegal immigrant,” means a person will no longer be described as illegal

At first glance this seems a little PC. But I do get the point about immigration violations being a civil and NOT a criminal offense ... so the use of the term "illegal" does promote connotations of criminality that is not accurate. Color me ambivalent with a slight leaning towards support. What say you?

OAW
     
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Apr 2, 2013, 06:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by OAW View Post
AP drops “illegal immigrant,” means a person will no longer be described as illegal

At first glance this seems a little PC. But I do get the point about immigration violations being a civil and NOT a criminal offense ... so the use of the term "illegal" does promote connotations of criminality that is not accurate. Color me ambivalent with a slight leaning towards support. What say you?

OAW
It's PC rhetoric designed to advance an agenda, pure and simple. Just because the current administration does not want to enforce the law doesn't make it legal.

It would be akin to the conservatives crying foul when called "right wing" and instead demanding to be called "left disoriented." Or progressives demanding to be called "non-traditionalists."

It's simply a modification of language to escape generally accepted negative connotations and further a very political agenda.
     
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Apr 2, 2013, 06:11 PM
 
Also:
Originally Posted by AP
a blog post from AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explains. “Instead, it tells users that ‘illegal’ should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.”
Splitting hairs much? They themselves are not illegal aliens, but their residence here makes them illegal...aliens? I'm not sure how under his definition from a linguistic standpoint illegal immigrant is any different then the term "Convicted felon" or "Elected official." Are those terms scratched out too? From this purely linguistic standpoint her explanation makes no sense.
     
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Apr 2, 2013, 10:14 PM
 
Entering the U.S. without permission is a violation of an administrative rule, not a violation of a federal statute. "Immigrating illegally" is a semantically valid statement, while "illegal immigrant" implies that the immigrant him/herself exists illegally, which is neither accurate nor useful. "Undocumented" is accurate, semantically correct, and avoids the dehumanizing effect of the use of "illegal."

This discussion is important because the emotionally loaded "illegal immigrant" term tends to produce an inaccurate impression for people who do not understand why people come to the U.S. without permission, i.e. in the majority of cases to earn money to send home because of the lack of effective employment at home. The very few exceptions are the ones that get most of the press, and they are a problem, but not the enormous problem some would have us believe.

Most undocumented aliens try to stay well below the radar and do not utilize social systems like Welfare, avoid hospitals, and don't get auto insurance because they'd have to show some sort of identification. They do not bring their whole family here (most spend an awful lot of money to low-life "coyotes" who smuggle them across the border like sardines, and who abandon their customers at the slightest sign of law enforcement, which often leads to deaths of those trying to come here. They do not "place a burden on our society" by sucking up resources; they often do jobs that Americans won't do for the same pay. THIS is a crucial thing; undocumented workers are very vulnerable to significant abuse, including low wages (well below minimum wage) substandard and sometimes dangerous housing, loan scams and loan sharks, and more. A worthwhile guest worker program would both protect the workers from abusive U.S. bosses, but also give the nation a handle on who comes in when and for how long. But with too much emotionally loaded rhetoric, we're never going to make progress toward figuring out this very important issue.

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Apr 3, 2013, 09:53 AM
 
It suggests they were lousy citizens in their own country and now here, are lousy ILLEGALS here. Not citizens. They were unable or unwilling to jump through the hoops required to be citizens here. What makes you think these illegal aliens will ever become good citizens?
     
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Apr 3, 2013, 11:27 AM
 
I know a bunch personally.

How's about you? When was the last time you had a conversation with an illegal immigrant?
     
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Apr 3, 2013, 12:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by BadKosh View Post
It suggests they were lousy citizens in their own country and now here, are lousy ILLEGALS here. Not citizens. They were unable or unwilling to jump through the hoops required to be citizens here. What makes you think these illegal aliens will ever become good citizens?
Couldn't be furthest from the truth. From what conspiracy website did you dig that up?
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Apr 3, 2013, 02:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I know a bunch personally.

How's about you? When was the last time you had a conversation with an illegal immigrant?
Today, actually. She needed a ride over the weekend into DC from her place in cheverly to apply to a club as a server. She called today to thank me (she got the job). She'll get paid under the table, and currently pays no taxes aside from sales tax on her purchases.

I don't want to ship them all home. I want to close the methods of entry for illegally entering the US then and only then have some sort of path to residency/citizenship for those that have worked here and established a life.
     
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Apr 3, 2013, 02:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Entering the U.S. without permission is a violation of an administrative rule, not a violation of a federal statute. "Immigrating illegally" is a semantically valid statement, while "illegal immigrant" implies that the immigrant him/herself exists illegally, which is neither accurate nor useful. "Undocumented" is accurate, semantically correct, and avoids the dehumanizing effect of the use of "illegal."
So an elected official exists electedly? A convicted felon exists convictedly? I'm sorry, but that doesn't hold water. "undocumented" implies that every immigrant must be documented, which is but a small part of the process and not central to the spirit of the immigration process. The implication is imagined by those who champion the cause of being able to enter the US outside of the established immigration procedure, and against established federal regulations.

The terms illegal alien/immigrant are both accurate and useful, IMO. Immigrant/Alien describes the person while illegal describes how they established themselves as an immigrant.

Just as official describes the person while elected describes how they established themselves as an official.
And also as felon describes the person while convicted describes how they established themselves as a felon.
     
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Apr 3, 2013, 02:52 PM
 
My general feeling is to make it far easier to enter legally, and then we have the moral authority to crack down on those who violate our system.
     
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Apr 3, 2013, 02:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
My general feeling is to make it far easier to enter legally, and then we have the moral authority to crack down on those who violate our system.
I'm not interested so much in the morality but the practicality. We find morality in doing right by our citizens. These people aren't country-less. I agree that it should be far easier to enter legally, but practically speaking in order for that to be effective we must first close the means of illegal entry. We must make legal entry the more attractive alternative.
     
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Apr 3, 2013, 03:20 PM
 
Honestly, I don't see the god damn difference. Potayto, potahto.

I agree it seems PC. (That said, would you call someone driving without a license an illegal driver or an unlicensed driver?)
     
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Apr 3, 2013, 03:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
Honestly, I don't see the god damn difference. Potayto, potahto.

I agree it seems PC. (That said, would you call someone driving without a license an illegal driver or an unlicensed driver?)
The difference is by making it easy to enter as an illegal to gain citizenship, you are making that an attractive option. By not allowing illegal entry but instead making legal entry easier you are making that the more attractive option.

From a moral standpoint, you're right, potato pahtahto. From a practical standpoint, the order is extremely important.
     
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Apr 3, 2013, 03:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by Snow-i View Post
The difference is by making it easy to enter as an illegal to gain citizenship, you are making that an attractive option. By not allowing illegal entry but instead making legal entry easier you are making that the more attractive option.

From a moral standpoint, you're right, potato pahtahto. From a practical standpoint, the order is extremely important.
My response was to the OP
     
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Apr 3, 2013, 03:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
Honestly, I don't see the god damn difference. Potayto, potahto.

I agree it seems PC. (That said, would you call someone driving without a license an illegal driver or an unlicensed driver?)
The correct legal term is driving without a license. Immigrant without legal status? I'm down for it.
     
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Apr 10, 2013, 11:24 AM
 
Unauthorized Immigrant works for me.
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Apr 10, 2013, 11:36 AM
 
I like "undocumented space alien".

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Apr 12, 2013, 10:32 AM
 
Originally Posted by Snow-i View Post
The correct legal term is driving without a license. Immigrant without legal status? I'm down for it.
I suppose the parallel would be immigrant without documents. Which shortened might lead us to...
     
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Apr 12, 2013, 12:32 PM
 
Wop?
     
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Apr 12, 2013, 12:37 PM
 
Nice.
     
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Apr 12, 2013, 12:44 PM
 
I'm Italian. S'okay.

I'm also half Polack.
     
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Apr 12, 2013, 12:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
I suppose the parallel would be immigrant without documents. Which shortened might lead us to...
Illegal Aliens.
     
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Apr 12, 2013, 12:58 PM
 
You didn't do very well on your SATs, did you?
     
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Apr 12, 2013, 01:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
You didn't do very well on your SATs, did you?
top 10%
     
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Apr 12, 2013, 01:27 PM
 
It's not showing in this instance.

"Driving without a license is to unlicensed driver as immigrant without documents is to _____?
     
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Apr 12, 2013, 01:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
It's not showing in this instance.

"Driving without a license is to unlicensed driver as immigrant without documents is to _____?
I mean, I get where you were going with it. I was being willfully obtuse. I was hoping you'd pick up on the sarcasm without having to use a tacky smiley.

What documents are you referring to anyways? I think immigrant without legal status is a much better descriptor, considering the only purpose of the documents is to provide legal status.
     
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Apr 12, 2013, 01:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by Snow-i View Post
I mean, I get where you were going with it. I was being willfully obtuse. I was hoping you'd pick up on the sarcasm without having to use a tacky smiley.
The main problem is this place has a bunch of willfully obtuse people who aren't being sarcastic.

Originally Posted by Snow-i View Post
What documents are you referring to anyways? I think immigrant without legal status is a much better descriptor, considering the only purpose of the documents is to provide legal status.
I could go other way. In the case of a driver the license illustrates that he has gone through the proper channels and is legally operating the vehicle. In the case of the immigrant, the documents illustrate he has gone through the proper legal channels and is residing legally.
     
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Apr 12, 2013, 01:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
The main problem is this place has a bunch of willfully obtuse people who aren't being sarcastic.
I think there's a subtle yet important difference between willfully obtuse and just not giving a shit.

I think we have more of the latter.
     
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Apr 12, 2013, 02:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by BadKosh View Post
It suggests they were lousy citizens in their own country and now here, are lousy ILLEGALS here. Not citizens. They were unable or unwilling to jump through the hoops required to be citizens here. What makes you think these illegal aliens will ever become good citizens?

What makes you think they have to? They could become permanent residents.
     
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May 2, 2013, 09:28 AM
 
I don't give a crap what you call them, those who come to our country illegally and don't pay taxes, and get free services, in-state tuition, drivers licenses, etc. need to be taken care of. By that I mean, we need them to either get in line to become legal citizens, get in line to get a work visa, or get in line to leave America. They are being treated differently because, as Jay Leno put it, they are UNDOCUMENTED DEMOCRATS and it's all about votes...like when Bill Clinton had Al Gore get 50K "new voters from Mexico".
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May 2, 2013, 09:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
What makes you think they have to? They could become permanent residents.
they should have NO REWARDS for coming here the wrong (ILLEGAL) way. They should at least stand behind all those immigrants who have the morals and integrity to do it by the book. Perhaps if they want in in a big hurry, OK, but they NEVER have the right to vote and MUST pay 15% higher taxes.
     
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May 3, 2013, 09:28 AM
 
Interestingly, there are a lot of unnecessary hurdles for (for example) Mexicans interested in applying for residency in the U.S. "the right way." First off, our Consulates and Embassy in Mexico are not well staffed for much of anything, let alone the rather large number of people who want to emigrate to the U.S., so just getting in and being able to make the application is difficult. It also takes some significant amount of mobility unless one is well off enough to both live near a Consulate of the Embassy AND be able to spend the significant amount of time it takes to just sit around waiting for the right people there to even meet with. After that, the State Department's people in D.C. who handle these applications are quite a lot behind the applications. Like years. I don't know if it's due to staffing, extremely involved documentation requirements, background checks or whatever, but people's applications are often not even reviewed for anywhere from months to as much as (in one report I heard recently) two years...

Yeah, if you're from a relatively wealthy family, don't have to work every day, can just drop everything to go to the Embassy and hang out for a couple of days just to get the paperwork started, "the right way" is no problem at all. But are those the most likely people to be applying? In fact, they are not. Those folks take off a week at a time and come to San Antonio to shop (and to drive like in Mexico City, to behave rudely to shop employees, and generally act like they are quite privileged) whenever they decide to. People looking to come here to work are almost always unable to afford the time and travel just to put in documents which will sit and collect dust while the applicant continues to work to support a family...

If we want to keep people from avoiding "the right way" to emigrate, maybe we could make that way actually work. Just sayin'...

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May 3, 2013, 10:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
...
If we want to keep people from avoiding "the right way" to emigrate, maybe we could make that way actually work. Just sayin'...
Yup. Agree 100% with this statement.
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May 3, 2013, 10:52 AM
 
Many illegals fear "the law" on all levels, and that includes lawyers, so getting them to start the process of applying for a green card is nearly impossible.
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May 12, 2013, 09:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
Many illegals fear "the law" on all levels, and that includes lawyers, so getting them to start the process of applying for a green card is nearly impossible.
Generally, people who break federal laws should fear "the law".
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