Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Immigration Activists Still Oppose the Term “Illegal Immigrant”


In response to the Associated Press and The New York Times’ continued use of the term “illegal immigrant,” many activists are debating the use of the term and question its accuracy to describe the people.

Immigration activists oppose using the word “illegal immigrant” when describing those who are undocumented because it is “dehumanizing’ and “justifies the oppression against immigrants.”

Jonathan Rosa, an Assistant Professor of Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and 24 other scholars recently put out a statement arguing that “illegal immigrant” is imprecise and frames the debate in narrow terms.

“It is baffling to think that [The New York Times] would suggest ‘illegal immigrant’ is accurate and neutral,” says Rosa in an interview with ABC/Univision. “The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act defines immigrants as people who have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence, so “legal immigrant” is a redundant concept and ‘illegal immigrant’ is oxymoronic.”

As previously reported on La Plaza, nearly 46% of Latino voters find the term “illegal immigrant” as offensive, and campaigns such as Drop the I-Word have been created to encourage politicians and the media to stop using the term.

“We need new ways of understanding immigration, not just new phrases for characterizing migrants’ authorization status,” says Rosa. “This said, debates about terminology can open up important spaces for reconsidering the nature of immigration altogether. And a more humane approach to immigration should be central concern in this nation of immigrants.”

ABC News/Univision