Saturday, May 25, 2024

Rep. John Conyers: Do Not Use Term ‘Illegal Immigrants’

Illegal Discrimination
During the first House Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration reform on Tuesday, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) echoed what many immigrant rights advocates have been asking for years when he urged his colleagues to avoid using the term “illegal immigrants.”

“I hope no one uses the term ‘illegal immigrants’ here today,” said Conyers, who is the top ranking Democrat on the committee. “Our citizens are not—the people in this country are not illegal. They are out of status. They are new Americans that are immigrants, and I think we can forge a path to citizenship that will be able to pass muster.”

The question of what term to use when referring to immigrants who don’t have a legal in the United States has generated debates for years. Some see no problem in using the term ‘illegal’ to refer to undocumented immigrants while others argue that the term is dehumanizing.

Term ‘illegal immigrants’ denies people their humanity

B. Loewe, a spokesperson for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said he disagrees with the usage of the term “illegal immigrants” because it “denies people their humanity.” He also commended Conyers for urging others to stop using the term.

“It makes absolute sense for people who want to take immigration reform seriously to drop the i-word and take the hate out of the debate,” Loewe told VOXXI.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network is among the organizations that endorse the public education campaign dubbed Drop the I-Word, which launched in 2010.

The intent of the campaign is “to eradicate the dehumanizing slur ‘illegals’ from everyday use and public discourse.” Members of the campaign have also called on news outlets, including The New York Times, and elected officials to stop using the term “illegals.”

According to the campaign website, “The i-word opens the door to racial profiling and violence and prevents truthful, respectful debate on immigration.”

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists also has a long history of working to convince news outlets to drop the term “illegal immigrants” and instead use the term “undocumented immigrants” or “unauthorized immigrants.”

News outlets, groups refuse to drop ‘illegal immigrants’ term

Though some news outlets have followed the NAHJ’s advice, there are still some that insist on using the term “illegal immigrants.” Among them is the Associated Press, which publishes the AP Stylebook that many journalists use to guide them in their reporting.

There are also several organizations, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), that support using the term “illegal.” FAIR also uses terms such as “illegal aliens” and “deportable aliens” when referring to immigrants who are not authorized to be in the country.

The group argues that the alternative term “undocumented immigrant” blurs the distinction between those who were legally admitted into the U.S. and those who “sneaked into the country.”

“America uses the term ‘illegal alien’ to describe someone in our country in violation of our immigration laws not to demean someone, but rather because it is the correct, and legally recognized term,” the group stated in its website.

This article originally appeared on Voxxi.