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Illegal Aliens:

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists writes:

As the heated debates over health care and immigration reform collide, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists calls on our nation’s news media to stop using the dehumanizing term “illegals” as a noun to refer to undocumented immigrants.

NAHJ has long advocated for accurate terminology in news media’s coverage of immigration. NAHJ is concerned with the increasing use of pejorative terms like “illegals” – which is shorthand for “illegal aliens”, another term NAHJ objects to using – to describe the estimated 12 million undocumented people living in the United States.

Using "illegals" in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by dehumanizing and criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed. NAHJ calls on the media to never use “illegals” in headlines and in television news crawls.

“We continue to see ‘illegals’ used as a noun seeping from the fringes into the mainstream media, and in turn, into the mainstream political dialogue,” said NAHJ Executive Director Iván Román. “Using these terms not only distorts the debate, but it takes away their identities as individuals and human beings. When journalists do that, it’s that much easier to treat them unfairly and not give them an equal voice in the controversy.”

By incessantly using metaphors like “illegals”, the news media is not only appropriating the rhetoric used by people on a particular side of the issue, but also the implication of something criminal or worthy of suspicion. That helps to predetermine the credibility or respect given to one of the protagonists of this debate, which is not conducive to good journalism and does a disservice to the principles of fairness and neutrality.

In addition, NAHJ has always denounced the use of the degrading terms “alien” and “illegal alien” to describe undocumented immigrants because it casts them as adverse, strange beings, inhuman outsiders who come to the U.S. with questionable motivations. “Aliens” is a bureaucratic term that should be avoided unless used in a quote.

NAHJ prefers using the term "undocumented immigrant" or "undocumented worker" rather than the term "illegal immigrant" which several media outlets have adopted.

NAHJ also calls on editors and journalists to follow generally accepted guidelines regarding race and ethnicity and refrain from reporting a person’s legal status unless it is relevant to the story in question. The public in certain regions of the country have pressured news media to publish the legal status of any Latino who appears in the newspaper or on television, regardless of the story’s subject.

Doing so contributes to the growing trend of profiling Latinos as non-Americans or foreigners and using them as scapegoats for a variety of society’s ills, a tone that has become more pervasive in the public dialogue over the past few years. Few now doubt that this helps create a fertile environment for hate speech which we have seen can lead to discrimination and a growing number of hate crimes in the U.S. against Latinos.

As the U.S. tackles immigration reform in the future, NAHJ believes that responsible, fair, and non-simplistic coverage of this complex issue is in order. The words used can be part of the problem or can contribute to fair coverage and a fruitful public debate.

NAHJ, a 1,500-member organization of reporters, editors and other journalists, addresses the use of these words and phrases by the news media in its Resource Guide for Journalists. For excerpts of some of the relevant entries in the resource guide, click here.

Of course there's nothing "grammatically incorrect" about using "illegal" as a noun; adjectives often double as nouns, often with "the" ("the poor," "the rich," "the dead") and sometimes without a "the" ("Americans"). Dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary, list "illegal" as a noun, though the Random House lists it as an informal usage.

Nor is "undocumented immigrant" or "undocumented worker" somehow more "fair" than "illegal alien." Illegal aliens' problem — perhaps it shouldn't be a problem, but it certainly is a problem for them — isn't just that they somehow lack documents. It's that they lack the legal right to be here. One can debate whether they should have the right to be here, but the fact is that under the current legal system their being here is not legal. Someone who owns a gun without a registration required by state law, because state law bars him from getting such a registration (because he's underage or a felon or what have you) isn't just an "undocumented gun owner." He's an illegal gun owner, and identifying him as such better expresses the reality of the situation, even if you think that the law should be different.

This leaves the question of whether the terms are unduly pejorative, in much the way that "abortionist" is unduly pejorative, to the point that using the term this way is unnecessarily argumentative, and distracting and credibility-reducing in an objective article. I'm actually inclined, based on my sense of how the term is used, to think that the noun "illegal" is, which is why I generally don't say "illegals." But that's in large part because there is an alternative that is not deliberately obfuscatory, and commonly used as simply descriptive — "illegal alien" (or, for "abortionist," "abortion provider").

As between "illegal alien" and "undocumented immigrant," it strikes me that the former is more reflective of what is actually going on, for better or worse, and the latter is an attempt to hide what is actually going on. If one is writing political advocacy, one may deliberately choose the latter term (though even then one risks losing credibility). But if one is trying to be an objective journalist, I think "illegal alien" or "illegal immigrant" is the more objective and more candid way of putting things.

ruuffles (mail) (www):
From that awesome super duper NCC poll below

NCC8. Do you favor or oppose providing a legal way for illegal immigrants already in the
United States to become U.S. citizens?
[INTERVIEWER:
FOR EACH “FAVOR,” ASK: Is that strongly favor or somewhat favor?
FOR EACH “OPPOSE” ASK: Is that strongly oppose or somewhat oppose?]
9/3/09-
9/8/09
Total Favor 47
Strongly favor 21
Somewhat favor 26
Total Oppose 50
Somewhat oppose 12
Strongly oppose 38
Don’t know 2
Refused 1
Based on: N=1,001

So barely a majority oppose a pathway to citizenship, although over a third strongly oppose it. Much less than I expected, given the way the question was phrased.
9.16.2009 8:16pm
Dennis Nicholls (mail):
Hmmmm....

I suppose in some Orwellian future "murderer" should be replaced by "undocumented terminator", "arsonist" should be replaced by "undocumented combustion technician", and "rapist" should be replaced by "undocumented sperm donor".
9.16.2009 8:23pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
I've written literally thousands of posts about the general issue, and I agree with the last paragraphs of this post.

However, I don't know why EV would waste time on something like this when there are more important sides of this issue to discuss. Various groups have been trying this same trick for years, including the National Council of La Raza, of which our newest SC judge was a member. It would have been great if this site had spent some time pointing out the things at the link in an attempt to get her to withdraw or had discussed Harold Koh's support for illegal immigration.
9.16.2009 8:26pm
PatHMV (mail) (www):
I agree that "illegals" standing alone is rather dehumanizing, and I try to avoid it. I find "illegal aliens" to be entirely accurate, however.
9.16.2009 8:34pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
I recall seeing either an interview with or statement by Sen. Shumer where he caught himself just in time from saying illegal alien.

The problem I see with undocumented worker is that it also encompasses people who are in the country legally, just not allowed to work, such as those on student visas (if they are caught employed).
9.16.2009 8:35pm
Order of the Coif:
They are "illegals."

They chose to come here (or, at least, stay here) illegally. They exercised their freedom of choice to break the law. Now, they have to live with the consequences. They could have stayed home and applied in accordance with the law.
9.16.2009 8:39pm
Order of the Coif:
Would they prefer "criminals." That is accurate and a noun.
9.16.2009 8:40pm
common sense (www):
Prof Volokh,
I think your formatting is off. I believe you switch from the statement to your interpretation near the end, but you stay in block quote.

[Fixed, thanks! -EV]
9.16.2009 8:41pm
Oren:

I find "illegal aliens" to be entirely accurate, however.

Technically accurate, but "alien" is bit harsh. "Illegal immigrant" is also 100% technically accurate.


Would they prefer "criminals." That is accurate and a noun.

That is fine as well.
9.16.2009 8:48pm
Perseus (mail):
How about scofflaws instead of illegals?
9.16.2009 8:49pm
Rebelyell:
The problem with calling them "undocumented" is they have documents and the documents call for them to be elsewhere NOW!
9.16.2009 8:51pm
Xanthippas (mail) (www):

I suppose in some Orwellian future "murderer" should be replaced by "undocumented terminator", "arsonist" should be replaced by "undocumented combustion technician", and "rapist" should be replaced by "undocumented sperm donor".


Because of course, those are exactly the equivalent of sneaking into another country to get a job.


They are "illegals."

They chose to come here (or, at least, stay here) illegally. They exercised their freedom of choice to break the law. Now, they have to live with the consequences. They could have stayed home and applied in accordance with the law.


So why don't we simply refer to murderers, arsonists and rapists as "illegals" for exercising their freedom of choice to break the law?
9.16.2009 8:52pm
Obvious (mail):
The irony is that the term "illegal alien," to which the group objects, creates more stigmatization on the notion of legality than of the immigrants who come to work in our country.

There was a time when to do something illegal was to be justly stigmatized; one had used violence or fraud on another citizen, violated their rights, harmed them in a substantive way. Now "illegal" is used to describe the youthful smoking habits of our last three Presidents, selling herring that is 1 cm. shorter than allowed by law, and countless other activities that many engage in every day, often unaware. And now we use it to describe over 10 million people, the vast majority productive and socially helpful, many of whom we know--possibly even employ as gardeners, housekeepers, nannies, etc.

Calling them illegal, while accurate, makes disrespect for the law all the easier, and rightly so.
9.16.2009 8:52pm
J. Aldridge:
Trespassers would be another good word for them.
9.16.2009 8:52pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
I think the purpose behind "undocumented immigrant" is too jarringly obvious for it to be effective. Useful rhetoric should sound at least as natural as what it hopes to replace. This fails.

That said, "illegal immigrant" is still wrong. Not inaccurate, as EV explained, but wrong. It's wrong because to many, if not most legally unsophisticated ears, "illegal" connotes something closer to "criminal" than to "not legally authorized." That connotation is misleading and pejorative.
9.16.2009 8:54pm
cyclerider:
I once attended a lecture given by a very pro-immigration immigration attorney. She objected to the term "undocumented" because she said all illegal immigrants have documents, just not authentic documents. So I suggested the term, "fraudulently documented". I do not think my suggestion has been widely taken up, but it is accurate.
9.16.2009 8:54pm
CDU (mail) (www):
By incessantly using metaphors like “illegals”, the news media is not only appropriating the rhetoric used by people on a particular side of the issue, but also the implication of something criminal or worthy of suspicion.


Isn't entering a country in violation of it's immigration laws by definition, criminal?
9.16.2009 8:55pm
M (mail):
Would they prefer "criminals." That is accurate and a noun.

This is in fact not correct, at least in the large majority of cases. Immigration violations are, in the large majority of cases, civil violations, not criminal. Therefore, it is not accurate to call the majority of illegal immigrants (I'm not especially bothered by this term, nor by "undocumented immigrant") "criminals".
9.16.2009 8:55pm
Obvious (mail):
A question to Professor Volokh: I'm sure you came here through legal channels. I'm sure you had a strong desire to emigrate. And of course I'm very glad you came; the country is better off with you as a citizen.

My question is a hypothetical. If your only way to get out of the Soviet Union and come to America required your coming as an illegal alien, would you have been willing to do so?
9.16.2009 8:56pm
John (mail):
How about "residents awaiting deportation"?
9.16.2009 9:03pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
Documentationally challenged.
9.16.2009 9:08pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
1. As I understand it, overstays are civil, but EWI is indeed a crime. If not, explain the fourth person in the list here.

2. Allowing people to come here illegally (as Obvious seems to want) is bad policy for us and for other countries. However, it's a policy that many major politicians and Beltway hacks stand ready to promote (just as long as the check clears).
9.16.2009 9:09pm
roy:
It's disappointing to see them discuss their advocacy for "accurate terminology", then A) advocate "undocumented immigrant" or "undocumented worker" to describe a group of people which includes many people who are not undocumented, not immigrants, and not workers; and B) rely on an inaccurate (or at least incomplete) definition of "alien" to bolster their claims.

I'm also confused by the claim that the term is "criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed". I've heard this claim often, but never heard any support for it. Certainly people who use the term maliciously may have that meaning in mind, but that's true of anything. If bigots start calling illegal aliens "unofficial neighbors", it will be a hateful term in that context.

That said, no, "criminal" is not accurate because not all laws are criminal laws.
9.16.2009 9:11pm
Cold Warrior:
For common/non-technical use, I'd agree with Volokh that "illegal alien" a far better term than "undocumented immigrant" or "undocumented worker." Particularly than the latter term, since many here in violation of the immigration laws aren't workers at all. Then again, may of those with documents -- even real, validly-obtained documents -- also fit within the common understanding of what is an "illegal alien."

When working on immigration matters, such shorthand is all but useless. We use terms like "EWI" -- "Entered without Inspection" (pronounced "ee-wee"). Or some people prefer the post-'96 reform term, "PWAP," for "Present without admission or parole." There are a lot of quasi-legal statuses out there. You may enter illegally (EWI)and apply for asylum. After 180 days, you may be granted work authorization. You'll get a real, valid card from Homeland Security allowing you to live and work here while your application is pending, sometimes for many years. And you can't be deported during that time. So are you an "illegal alien?" Well, yes, in that you are an EWI, but no, in that your continuing presence is authorized by DHS. And of course you're not "undocumented" either. You have a valid card allowing you to stay, and sometimes to get other valid forms of state-issued ID, too.

So people really shouldn't get too worked up about these terms. They're all shorthand for the spectrum of illegal and quasi-legal (authorized to stay, but deportable unless you can, for example, show that you'd be persecuted in your country) statuses. Some demographers prefer the shorthand PRUCOL ("Permanently residing under color of law") for certain other classes, including those granted "temporary protected status," which is temporary in concept, but is de facto permanent status for many -- some Salvadorans have been in temporary protected status since 1991.

The silliest objection is to the use of the term "alien," which is a time-honored term with a precise meaning. Pro-immigration groups prefer "noncitizen," which comes close to describing the same class, but fails to capture the historical context of "alien." It's also far more clumsy.

Call 'em what you will, but be aware of which subset of immigrants you're talking about. EWIs only? PRUCOLs? Visa overstays, who entered legally but just didn't go home? This stuff really matters when we talk about things like the reach of the health care guarantee being kicked around in Washington.
9.16.2009 9:18pm
Gabriel Malor (mail):
Technically accurate, but "alien" is bit harsh. "Illegal immigrant" is also 100% technically accurate.

Oren, "illegal immigrant" isn't accurate either. Many aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States aren't "immigrants" as that term is legally used. For example, aliens who entered with student visas (that is a nonimmigrant visa) to attend school, but who quit school or overstay their visas.
9.16.2009 9:20pm
Rhymes With Right (mail) (www):
Fine -- I'll settle for "border-jumping immigration criminals". That will focus on their actions.
9.16.2009 9:22pm
HoyaBlue:
I completely agree that undocumented worker is a silly term, but they're right about the oddity of referring to people as illegals.

You may speak of 'the poor' or 'the dead,' but how often have you referred to a person as 'a poor' or 'a dead'? Or a group as 'a bunch of deads'?

It is linguistically unusual.

Also, I don't really like the term alien in a connotation sense. The term instinctively makes me think of extraterrestrials. Hence to me, it associates them with something that is not human.

I think that might be an age thing, as I'm significantly younger than the authors/most of the commentators. That, and I watched a lot of sci-fi stuff growing up.

Am I alone in that? Maybe it's just an idiosyncratic thing.
9.16.2009 9:23pm
HoyaBlue:
Note: while I say I don't really like the term, I'm not sure I have a good alternative.

Although I do prefer illegal immigrant to illegal alien.
9.16.2009 9:24pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Ahhh, c'mon, call them what they really are: "homicide bombers"....

Cheers,
9.16.2009 9:25pm
Dennis Nicholls (mail):
Actually an illegal alien is most comparable to a burglar, who performs the act of breaking and entry to take something that doesn't belong to them.
9.16.2009 9:26pm
JohnO (mail):
I think arsonists should be called "arson providers," and criminals should be called "people who have committed a crime." That way we don't blame the person, but blame the act. I also think we should jail those pesky crimes and not the poor people who happen to commit them.
9.16.2009 9:27pm
jaf:
Except for illegal alien, is the adjective "illegal" ever used to modify a person in any other instance? Its normal use is as a modifier of actions (drunk driving is illegal) or objects (illegal drugs). In this case, it's not the alien who is illegal, it's the act of entering or remaining in the country without legal status. So it is grammatically incorrect.
9.16.2009 9:27pm
Oren:


Oren, "illegal immigrant" isn't accurate either. Many aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States aren't "immigrants" as that term is legally used. For example, aliens who entered with student visas (that is a nonimmigrant visa) to attend school, but who quit school or overstay their visas.


Sure they are, they have just attempted to immigrate (v.intr. To enter and settle in a country or region to which one is not native) in defiance of our laws.

That makes them criminals (yes, "criminal" covers the entire gamut from pot smoker to violent rapist) in addition to immigrants.
9.16.2009 9:28pm
Jack Dempsey (mail):
We sure have come a long way from Operation Wetback and the 1,000,000 illegal aliens that it set about removing from the southwest USA.
9.16.2009 9:31pm
BT:
Will the major news organizations take their suggestion? My guess is that they will but only time will tell. Also according to this group the word illegal is “the rhetoric used by people on a particular side of the issue, ... the protagonists of this debate, which is not conducive to good journalism and does a disservice to the principles of fairness and neutrality.”

So what they want to do is replace “the rhetoric used by people on a particular side of the issue” with the rhetoric used by the people on the other side of the issue and make that the correct rhetoric regardless of how inaccurate that may be in describing people who are here illegally.
9.16.2009 9:32pm
Cold Warrior:
Well, no, Oren. Not everyone who overstays a visa is an "immigrant," since under U.S. law the term "immigrant" implies an intent to remain indefinitely. It may be correct to say "presumptive immigrant." I think that's fair.

Before anyone lashes out at me, I have no problem -- none -- with the term "illegal immigrant." I'm just pointing out that sometimes we really do need to be more precise in our language. I don't really like the idea of pseud-national health care, for example, but if we pass it, I'd say it ought to cover some (those here under temporary protected status?), but not all (those who overstayed, got married, and are applying for a green card) "illegal immigrants."
9.16.2009 9:32pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
"Undocumented" literally means "without papers", right? So how about WOP? Whoops.

Seriously, the whole illegal alien thing puzzles the heck out of me. If we sincerely didn't want these people here we'd round them up and deport them. But we aren't doing that, so somebody(s) must want them here. That being the case, why not fast-track them into the system so they can be properly taxed and regulated to death like the rest of us are? I have to wonder ... oh well. My thoughts here.
9.16.2009 9:39pm
pedro (mail):
There is one important distinction between "undocumented worker" and "illegal alien" and it is that the former describes the current condition of a person while the latter describes the person. Eugene's argument by tautology that people residing illegally here are here illegally notwithstanding, it is absolutely clear to me that the latter term is preferred by a large segment of the public precisely because it stigmatizes the people to whom it may apply, whereas emphasizing the condition of the person--being here without papers, as it were--does not do such a thing to the same degree.
9.16.2009 9:58pm
HoyaBlue:

Not everyone who overstays a visa is an "immigrant," since under U.S. law the term "immigrant" implies an intent to remain indefinitely.


Why should we care what US law stipulated?

They meet the commonly accepted and used definitions of the word 'immigrant.' The US Government does not get to define the meaning of everyday words in the English language.
9.16.2009 10:05pm
yankee (mail):
I agree with Eugene about "illegal immigrant" vs. "undocumented immigrant." I'd add that simply referring to illegal immigrants as "illegals" is ludicrous and offensive.
9.16.2009 10:19pm
liberty or death:
Illegal alien is to undocumented immigrant and drug dealer is to unlicensed pharmacist.
9.16.2009 10:19pm
liberty or death:
Illegal alien is to undocumented immigrant *as* drug dealer is to unlicensed pharmacist.
9.16.2009 10:20pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Cold Warrior:

Before anyone lashes out at me, I have no problem -- none -- with the term "illegal immigrant." I'm just pointing out that sometimes we really do need to be more precise in our language. I don't really like the idea of pseud-national health care, for example, but if we pass it, I'd say it ought to cover some (those here under temporary protected status?), but not all (those who overstayed, got married, and are applying for a green card) "illegal immigrants."


So you don't think that once one has filed for a proper adjustment of status which will almost certainly be granted, we should include them in the health care system instead of waiting for the few weeks or months until the green card is issued?

What purpose would that serve since marital property of the citizen would be at issue for medical emergencies?

I am assuming that you mean that a proper adjustment of status has been filed and that the illegal immigrant (in this case, having applied for legal residency) on the basis of having entered into a bona fide marriage with a US citizen.

Don't worry, the BCIS won't punish the US citizen who married in this case by denying the application, though there are STRONG incentives for doing things in the proper way. For example tourist visas are routinely DENIED to family members of individuals who obtained legal residency under dubious circumstances.
9.16.2009 10:21pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Oren:

Sure they are, they have just attempted to immigrate (v.intr. To enter and settle in a country or region to which one is not native) in defiance of our laws.


Not all illegal aliens are seeking to immigrate. Some are here for a while then take their money back to their home countries.

I have known some individuals. I have also seen them be the victims of really predatory behavior on the part of businesses using their services.
9.16.2009 10:25pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Not all illegal aliens are seeking to immigrate. Some are here for a while then take their money back to their home countries.
Which may be a good reason to think that "illegal alien" is preferable to "illegal worker", etc. They are aliens, but they are not legal aliens.
9.16.2009 10:33pm
maggie:
How about "Criminal". Gosh these people are sooooooo bad at propaganda. But our MSM will follow their orders and salute.
9.16.2009 10:34pm
Lou Gots (mail):
"Illegal," standing alone, is clearly a colloquialism, and should be avoided in serious writing. This is particularly so where, as here, the usage is found to be offensive.

"Alien," however, is the correct term, being the very word used in the relevant statutes.

As to whether those illegal aliens are criminals or not, that is, as they say, something you could look up. Title 8 U.S.C. Section 1325 makes illegal entry a crime. A petty crime for the first offense, to be sure, but what we would call a felony for subsequent illegal entries.
9.16.2009 10:38pm
Cold Warrior:
einhverfr, I'm just throwing out examples of things Congress should consider when deciding what classes of "illegal aliens" would be covered. Obviously, if you cover someone immediately upon marriage (with a pending adjustment of status application), you create an incentive for marriage fraud. And that incentive is particularly strong if the alien is in need of expensive health care. And while the simple adjustment of status may only take a few months, what about the difficult ones that require investigation? Requests for more evidence? Denial, and referral to an immigration judge? These are important things to consider.

I'm just saying that a comment like Obama's -- "no illegal alien will be covered" -- is never going to be a "lie" per se, because the term "illegal alien" is so flexible that it can, within certain broad limits, mean a lot of different things. It may not be a "lie," but it is spin, but shouting out "you spin" at the President doesn't have quite the same rhetorical oomph, don't you agree?
9.16.2009 10:38pm
Splunge:
Objecting to being called a spade if you're a square-shaped digging implement is ludicrous, and ultimately self-destructive. Your best approach is to embrace it, cf. the history of "queer."

On the other hand, there's a serious point lurking under here, which is that "illegal" tends to connote some nasty action that specifically harms another individual -- fraud, theft, arson, rape -- and not merely an action which is against public policy and which may harm or benefit (depending on who you ask, and how you spin the numbers) actual individuals.

Obvious nails it: this is a direct result of the creeping criminalization of public policy differences, our gradual evolution into a quasi-fascist state (of the left or right matters little), in which everything not permitted is forbidden, and vice versa, and where disobeying the whims of the vox populi (smoking in the wrong places, living dangerously, or body odor) is reduce to the same general level as violating another's personal rights.

A very unfortunate development, that.
9.16.2009 10:39pm
Borealis (mail):
The abortion debate is what led to this affront to the English language. The terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are nothing but spin, and those terms could apply to almost any political issue.

But the media took the spin bait and started using one or both of the terms.
9.16.2009 10:39pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
I know a man who managed a high-tech company for a number of years after his student visa or green card (or both - whatever) ran out; he finally went back home (to India) where he started a successful company in his father's garage (which he outgrew recently). So not every "illegal" is necessarily an immigrant, looking for US citizenship (or the illegal equivalent thereof).

That having been said, I would prefer if we were to properly close our borders on the one hand and streamline our immigration policies and their implementation on the other hand. Also, we used to have a guest-worker program (mainly for agricultural workers) with Mexico; it's my understanding that this worked rather well and was not abused too badly; the workers went home regularly, etc and there was no question of their citizenship (Mexican) or their status in the US (legal). The program was ended and at that point, we began having our current Illegal Immigrant problems.

With vast numbers of unknown, undocumented (by the US) people crossing the border, we are also seeing large numbers of real criminals and drug smugglers, etc. crossing over. Our relative lack of border security makes this easy for them; worse, it makes it easy for terrorists to cross over as well, and if drug smugglers can sneak across with truckloads of marijuana, etc, it shouldn't be particularly difficult to bring over a few truckloads of explosives and automatic weapons, etc.... Who knows where that might start showing up!
9.16.2009 10:42pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
Regarding the last sales job, see this. There are four search methods in the right sidebar at my site in case anyone wants to see what the MSM and various hacks won't tell you.
9.16.2009 10:58pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
I should have read Brooks Lyman's full comment and I didn't see the first time that he's engaging in this stock canard.

Can you trust someone who's basically just reading from a card?
9.16.2009 11:01pm
Ricardo (mail):
I'm just saying that a comment like Obama's -- "no illegal alien will be covered" -- is never going to be a "lie" per se, because the term "illegal alien" is so flexible that it can, within certain broad limits, mean a lot of different things. It may not be a "lie," but it is spin, but shouting out "you spin" at the President doesn't have quite the same rhetorical oomph, don't you agree?

It's all politics. In the real world, if someone walks into an emergency room with a medical problem and that person speaks with a foreign accent, none of the hospital staff are going to demand to be shown a passport with the appropriate visa and make an on-the-spot determination on whether the patient ever violated the terms of his or her visa before treating the patient. Federal law in fact requires them to provide treatment. Who do you suppose pays for it when the patient doesn't have any money? Illegal aliens are already covered by a certain kind of ad hoc insurance.

Broadly speaking, Obama can be correct but if you really want to get down into the details, you can make the argument illegal aliens are receiving catastrophic health insurance -- in the form of free visits to the emergency room -- already.
9.16.2009 11:06pm
ReaderY:
No more dehumanizing than "fetus".'
9.16.2009 11:12pm
Obvious (mail):
Given EMTALA, IF the President were speaking the truth that no Federal funds would ever go to pay for healthcare for illegal immigrants, it would seem Obama has just guaranteed another large unfunded mandate.
9.16.2009 11:24pm
Kazinski:
I don't mind "Illegal Alien" or "Undocumented Immigrant" what I really don't like is just plain "Immigrant", which you see occaisionally. That is just plain dishonest.
9.16.2009 11:26pm
Constantin:
I actually hope more people start using "undocumented worker," because it's an easy marker that what I'm reading is intellectually dishonest, and Orwellian, and not worth my time.

Same goes for "anti-choice."
9.16.2009 11:28pm
TomHynes (mail):
How do we feel about bastard, illegitimate child, and born out of wedlock?
9.16.2009 11:39pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
1. Would we call a drug dealer an "undocumented pharmacist?" Of course not. The term "illegal" is a simple and appropriate neologism for someone who has made an unauthorized entry into the US, or has is no longer authorized to remain on US soil.

2. The actual number of illegals in the US far exceeds the official figure of 12 million provided by the Census Bureau. Based on school enrollments and other statistics, the real number almost surely exceeds 20 Million.

3. About 1/3 of the people in jail are illegal aliens.

4. Illegal aliens are generally guilty of more than the a civil infraction. Since an illegal alien has no work permit and no social security number he must either work "off the books," or engage in identity theft. Both are felonies.

5. In Mexico someone planning an illegal entry would generally say: "Voy El Norte," instead of Voy a los Estados Unidos. In other words, many Mexicans consider much of the US Southwest to be Mexican territory, and see nothing illegal about making an authorized border crossing. There is no border as far as they are concerned. This attitude extends to the president of Mexico, and many Hispanic activists such as La Raza. Thus we see the objection to the term "illegal alien."

It's important not to adopt the language of those who seek the denationalization of the US.
9.16.2009 11:45pm
californiamom:
I'm more concerned about this groups pressuring the news media not to tell that someone in a news story is an illegal alien 'unless it's relevant'. That is, they don't want the public to know how many criminals are also illegals. Pressuring the news media to keep information they don't like away from the public.
9.16.2009 11:46pm
Cato The Elder (mail) (www):
ReaderY, I have to remark that I find you one of the "fairest" commenters on this forum. Alot of people try to affect pretensions to non-partisanship; of course, very few actually are actually so. (I'm not; I'm a rabid wing-nut.) But I have to admit I admire the consistency at which you skewer both Left and Right when they depart from held principle. And your comments are uniformly educational and well-reasoned even when discussing controversial subjects. Actually, you remind me of someone I know personally, who's a bit autistic. But I'm curious; do you have actually harbor an affiliation? If you do, you hide it very well.
9.16.2009 11:49pm
Sarcastro (www):
1. I like to use the term illegals, so everyone else should too.

2. The fact that there are many illegals is relevant somehow.

3. Lots of this group are in jail. Making generalizations about the rest of the group seems fair game to me!

4. Shockingly, illegals broke the law at some point. Therefore, I needn't address any arguments made in the OP.

5. The poor people in Mexico do not see national borders. Just like superman. Thus, they can destroy the US the moment they feel like it.

[I do think the excerpt on the OP is ludicrous. But that's due to it's crappy argument that illegals carries a negative charge and that changing what we call them will somehow change how people feel about them. That ship, it seems to me, has sailed.

But really, denationalize the US? I'm really not worried.]
9.17.2009 12:03am
Frater Plotter:
Someone who owns a gun without a registration required by state law, because state law bars him from getting such a registration (because he's underage or a felon or what have you) isn't just an "undocumented gun owner." He's an illegal gun owner, and identifying him as such better expresses the reality of the situation, even if you think that the law should be different.
He may be an illegal (or criminal) gun owner, but the weapon in question isn't an illegal gun.

For that matter, there's a question of whether the law pertains to ownership, or to possession. If Joe, a registered gun owner, merely lends me his gun for an indefinite period, I may possess a gun for that period without ever owning it. Or, similarly, I might pay Joe for a gun to be delivered to my cousin, with the ownership passing to me but with my cousin possessing it.
9.17.2009 12:11am
Anonymous 09.17.09 (mail):
"Using 'illegals' in this way is grammatically incorrect ...."

Ha, ha, ha, ha! This strikes me as a hilarious argument.

And using "undocumented immigrants" in the way the NAHJ propose is just plain incorrect.

These people are illegal aliens: foreign people who are in our country illegally.
9.17.2009 12:11am
Eugene Volokh (www):
A. Zarkov: I've heard statistics such as "About 1/3 of the people in jail are illegal aliens," but I couldn't quite track down the source. Can you point me to a reliable source on this subject? Perhaps the statistic is right -- I'd just like to track it down. Thanks!

HoyaBlue: "Americans," "blacks," "whites," "Hispanics," "Asians," etc. -- all are examples of adjectives that double as nouns, especially plural, even without a "the."

Jaf: There's nothing grammatically incorrect about "illegal alien"; "illegal" is an adjective that modifies "alien," a noun. Your claim seems to be about word meaning, not grammar -- you're saying that "illegal" as an adjective can only mean "not a legally permitted [action or object]," and can't mean "not a legally authorized [person]." But I see no justification for such an assertion.
9.17.2009 12:16am
Real American (mail):
I prefer the term Criminal Foreign Invaders.
9.17.2009 12:47am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Eugene Volokh:

A. Zarkov: I've heard statistics such as "About 1/3 of the people in jail are illegal aliens," but I couldn't quite track down the source. Can you point me to a reliable source on this subject?

Try GAO report number GAO-05-337R here. From the report:
The percentage of all federal prisoners who are criminal aliens has remained the same over the last 3 years--about 27 percent.
At the state level
We estimate that the federal government reimbursed these four states about 25 percent or less of the estimated cost to incarcerate these criminal aliens in fiscal years 2002 and 2003.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics also has incarceration data.

I try to link to the sources for the numbers I post. I thought this number was common knowledge, but I guess not.

If you find a flaw please let me know. I recall reading this figure from other sources too.
9.17.2009 12:50am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Illegal" is used as an adjectival noun. Adjectives are used as nouns, and nouns can be used as adjectives as in "water pump." This is sometimes known as an attributive noun.

Is any confused when someone writes, "illegal" or "illegal alien?" We all know what it means.
9.17.2009 12:57am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Sarcastro:

You do realize that it's a felony for someone to make an unauthorized entry into Mexico? You do know that Mexico has troops stationed on its southern border to prevent unauthorized entry? Why is it ok for Mexico to control its borders, but not the US? Does anyone refer to the Mexicans as "racists" or "xenophobes" because they control their borders?

Of course immigration advocates don't come out and literally say that the US shouldn't control its borders. But when asked what sort of enforcement they approve of, you don't get a straight answer, or the approved method would be ineffective. Let's be honest for a change and admit that advocates for unfettered Hispanic immigration to the US really don't want the US to have meaningful borders because somehow the US "owes" something to the Third World, and open borders discharges that debt.
9.17.2009 1:08am
Flashman:
As a documented alien myself I prefer the term "Foreign criminals" to refer to queue-jumping scofflaws.
9.17.2009 1:10am
theobromophile (www):
This leaves the question of whether the terms are unduly pejorative, in much the way that "abortionist" is unduly pejorative, to the point that using the term this way is unnecessarily argumentative, and distracting and credibility-reducing in an objective article.

Prof. Volokh: I think you will find that, so long as Americans dislike people who come into this country without legal authorisation to do so, whatever term is applied to these people will eventually become pejorative. "Alien" was a very normal term for hundreds of years and is still used in other contexts without pejorative overtones (e.g. "alienation of affections"). This will likely follow the same pattern as for the mentally handicapped: "retarded" became pejorative (rather than simply meaning, literally, "slower" or "a bit behind"); when it was replaced by "special needs," the term "special" acquired pejorative overtones rather quickly.

On a side note, I disagree with using the term "undocumented worker" because it is not just an incomplete descriptor; it is slightly misleading as well. A 15-year-old who babysits and gets paid under the table is an "undocumented worker;" her status, relative to society and the social issues that arise from the illegal alien debate, are vastly different from those brought about by those who cross our borders without lawful permission.
9.17.2009 1:13am
Brooks Lyman (mail):
24AheadDot Com,

I guess that we read different articles about the Bracero program; the one I read blamed the surge in illegal immigration on the ending of the Bracero program.

As for enforcement of legal vs illegal immigration, since there are somewhere between 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants currently in the US, if one intends to do something about them - deporting 12+ million people!? - concentrating on places of employment makes sense. On the other hand, you won't catch many al Qaeda terrorist infiltrators or drug smugglers that way; you might have a better chance down at the border, and of course a truly secure border will cut the number of new illegal immigrants sharply as well.

What is it with many people, that they don't see the problems with having porous borders? They should talk to some of the people who live near the Mexican border....

Sorry if you think I was "reading from a card;" maybe the person who wrote the card that you apparently have seen (I haven't) put the info together from reading all the same articles on the subject that I have read over the past several years in various magazines, newspapers and web sites - none of which makes me an expert, just a bit better informed than the average TV viewer.
9.17.2009 1:15am
Oren:

As a documented alien myself I prefer the term "Foreign criminals" to refer to queue-jumping scofflaws.

To me, that seems to imply that they violated the law where they came from, not here. In some cases, that's a favorable distinction.
9.17.2009 1:19am
theobromophile (www):
(Of course, I'm also wondering why you find "abortionist" to be inherently pejorative. We live in a society that segregates medical professionals by specialty - podiatrists, neurologists, psychiatrists, transplant surgeon, gynaecologists, oncologists, etc. All of these describe either a specific part of the body or the group of procedures performed. I'm curious to hear your rationale.)
9.17.2009 1:20am
John Moore (www):
Theo - again, GMTA...

Abortionist is not unduly pejorative when applied to someone who's primary work is performing abortions. It would be unduly pejorative applied to an OB-GYN who does occasional abortions (and it is used that way sometimes).

Back on the subject...


"Illegal," standing alone, is clearly a colloquialism, and should be avoided in serious writing. This is particularly so where, as here, the usage is found to be offensive.


"Illegal" is a perfectly fine colloquialism, and as such should not be considered offensive. It's a natural language practice to shorten a commonly used cumbersome term - illegal alien to illegal. There's a reason why cow, dog, horse, sheep, hay, wheat, food and bed (and most profanities) all have one syllable - they are commonly used, so they are reduced in size from whatever original long description might have been at first (e.g. "four legged animal that moos").

This is human beings naturally doing what mathematical information theory prescribes: creating common dictionaries (the understanding that "illegal" means "someone who is in the country illegally") so that the number of bits required to transmit information ("illegal ~= 24) is reduced. In this case, the understanding that "illegal" used as a noun usually means "illegal alien" is completely consistent and appropriate.

Using it in a more scholarly place would not seem to be offensive, merely unprofessional.

The political correct police (that needs a short term for it - correctors?) seem not to grasp the basic linguistic and information theoretical nature of colloquialisms.
9.17.2009 1:38am
U.Va. Grad:
Sarcastro:

You do realize that it's a felony for someone to make an unauthorized entry into Mexico? You do know that Mexico has troops stationed on its southern border to prevent unauthorized entry? Why is it ok for Mexico to control its borders, but not the US? Does anyone refer to the Mexicans as "racists" or "xenophobes" because they control their borders?

Of course immigration advocates don't come out and literally say that the US shouldn't control its borders. But when asked what sort of enforcement they approve of, you don't get a straight answer, or the approved method would be ineffective. Let's be honest for a change and admit that advocates for unfettered Hispanic immigration to the US really don't want the US to have meaningful borders because somehow the US "owes" something to the Third World, and open borders discharges that debt.


1) Mexico is wrong to control its borders in that way.

2) I literally believe that the US should have completely open borders, with the limited exception of periods of war declared by Congress.

3) Recognizing that this is not possible, I believe that the only check on whether or not someone should be admitted to the United States is whether they have a record of crimes of moral turpitude (in that good old-fashioned bar examiners' sense) in their home country.

4) I don't believe we owe the third world anything. Rather, I believe in pretty much absolute freedom of human movement.
9.17.2009 1:55am
Ricardo (mail):
"Illegal" is a perfectly fine colloquialism, and as such should not be considered offensive. It's a natural language practice to shorten a commonly used cumbersome term - illegal alien to illegal.

Sure, we shorten cumbersome phrases to refer to various groups of people all the time. The cumbersome three-syllable "Japanese" becomes "Jap," "Chinese" becomes "Chink," "Pakistani" becomes "Paki," etc. Who could possibly object to such syllable-saving linguistic short-cuts?
9.17.2009 2:05am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
John Moore:


"Illegal" is a perfectly fine colloquialism, and as such should not be considered offensive. It's a natural language practice to shorten a commonly used cumbersome term - illegal alien to illegal. There's a reason why cow, dog, horse, sheep, hay, wheat, food and bed (and most profanities) all have one syllable - they are commonly used, so they are reduced in size from whatever original long description might have been at first (e.g. "four legged animal that moos").


You need to spend more time studying linguistics. Your thesis directly contradicts the Neogrammarian Hypothesis which says that sound shifts are regular and exceptionless.

Actually of your list the majority have not been shortened at all since Indo-European, while a few (hay, plural of sheep, etc) have. However, these have occurred through regular processes which are not the result of how frequently a word is used.
9.17.2009 2:08am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I would note that the Neogrammarian Hypothesis in historical linguistics is widely accepted and has been continued to be validated through new evidence in the 20th century.
9.17.2009 2:21am
Mark N. (www):
I mostly find "illegal" as a noun to be kind of annoying slang, for similar reasons that I find "right to choose" annoying. Illegal what? Right to choose what? It's an insider-ish presumption that everyone's so interested in the same debate you're obsessed with that you don't even have to identify that you're talking about (respectively, "immigrants" and "abortion").
9.17.2009 2:25am
Leo Marvin (mail):
A. Zarkov:

EV said,

"I've heard statistics such as "About 1/3 of the people in jail are illegal aliens," [quoting Zarkov]but I couldn't quite track down the source. Can you point me to a reliable source on this subject?"

Try GAO report number GAO-05-337R here. From the report:

The percentage of all federal prisoners who are criminal aliens has remained the same over the last 3 years--about 27 percent.

[...]

If you find a flaw please let me know.

Some might consider calling 27% "about 1/3" a flaw.
9.17.2009 2:41am
FC:
Dammit Eugene, I'm a person who does abortions, not an abortionist!
9.17.2009 2:59am
Ricardo (mail):
Zarkov:

A few flaws. First "criminal alien" simply means a non-U.S. citizen who is convicted of a crime -- it does not mean that person gained illegal entry to the U.S. or violated the terms of his visa (aside, of course, from violating the federal law for which he was convicted). Second, federal prisons are very different from state prisons. Federal prisons house a disproportionate number of people convicted of organized crime, while collar crime or drug-related activities. In other words, they have far fewer violent sociopaths than state prisons. Third, at the state level and overall, immigrants are less likely to be in prison than native born Americans, see Butcher and Piehl (2005). 3.45% of American men between 18 and 40 were "institutionalized" in 2000 -- this is considered a very good proxy for being incarcerated but does include being in a mental institution. This compares to 0.68% of immigrants. This gap remains even at most sub-groups.

For instance, using 2000 PUMS census data, 6.6% of Hispanic-Americans are institutionalized. By contrast, only 0.79% of Hispanic immigrants are institutionalized. Gaps between Americans and immigrants also exist when you look at people who did not finish high school or those who only have high school diplomas.

So no, your 1/3 statistic is not correct for state prisons. Not even for California. A paper that focuses specifically on California by the same authors is here.
9.17.2009 3:01am
A. Zarkov (mail):
U.Va. Grad:

"Rather, I believe in pretty much absolute freedom of human movement."

What would be the consequences to the US of such a policy?

1. Many millions of Mexicans and other Third-World people would pour across the border and take up permanent residence.

2. The millions of new residents could collect social benefits such as free schooling, medical care, food stamps, AFDC etc. The costs would be staggering and unaffordable.

3. Tax rates for current residents would have to go up or the social programs curtailed or eliminated.

4. Crime would increase.

5. There would be serious public health consequences.

6. Per capital energy consumption would increase.

7. The new residents being less educated, less skilled and with lower IQs would constitute a dead weight drag on the US economy resulting in a lower GDP per capita.

8. The entire nature of US society would change into something else.

9. Terrorists could more easily gain entry.

10. Foreign countries could encourage their most problematical citizens to emigrate to the US.

What is the benefit to current US residents of such a policy? I see no reason to have absolute freedom of human movement. Where did you ever get such a notion?
9.17.2009 5:19am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Leo Marvin:

"Some might consider calling 27% "about 1/3" a flaw."

Close enough for government work. Remember I said "about." I think this is nitpicking.
9.17.2009 5:22am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Ricardo:

I will check out your sources. As I said I have seen similar numbers elsewhere. Let's remember that there is immense pressure from the immigration lobby not to collect data on criminal illegals so we need be careful. Let's also remember that the offspring of illegals have a higher crime rate than their parents.

But good work anyway.
9.17.2009 5:26am
Ricardo (mail):
Zarkov, as the GAO report you quoted itself says, there is no reliable data from state and local governments regarding how many of their prison or jail inmates are not U.S. citizens. That's simply the product of federalism. Different state governments are going to have different priorities in collecting this kind of data and it may not be possible to compare the data across states.

The report on California says that immigrants make up 17% of California's adult prison population, compared to 35% of the adult population of the state.

If we go back to the Census data within California, we see the same patterns I alluded to above. Over 4% of U.S.-born men between the ages of 18 and 40 are institutionalized in California. However, only 0.5% of Mexican-born non-U.S. citizens are institutionalized. The percentage does not change if you include Mexicans naturalized as U.S. citizens.

Again, these numbers come straight out the U.S. Census Bureau's own datasets. Unless you can point to a mistake the authors made in analyzing the Census dataset or to a problem with the Census dataset itself, I would say this settles the issue. You are right that the children of immigrants in nearly every subgroup have higher rates of incarceration than their parents. But again, because of limitations in the data, we can't separate out illegal versus legal immigrants since illegal immigrants don't go around advertising their status to data collectors.
9.17.2009 6:08am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Ricardo:

The Census is not a reliable source of data. As I said there is tremendous political pressure to minimize the impact of illegal immigration on crime rates as discussed here.

I need to browse my folders on this issue, so stay tuned. Even the wicked have to sleep sometime.
9.17.2009 6:31am
EMG:

If your only way to get out of the Soviet Union and come to America required your coming as an illegal alien, would you have been willing to do so?


As stated, I think that question is unduly personal. However, I (as the child of a legal, professional white immigrant, myself) think that a person who was able to come to this country because immigration policy happened to cut his way should think carefully about how much technical and semantic cover he really ought to give to the expression of the view that people who come here without the benefit of friendly policy are horrible, criminal, evil, inferior creatures. Especially when the policy in question is not an honest one of true enforcement - such as a patriot could support, and potential violators would understand as morally serious - but a duplicitous one of offering illegal immigrants (and their employers) near-irresistible economic incentives, looking the other way while they do back-breaking work without the protection of labor regulations, and then holding them up as scapegoats per political convenience.
9.17.2009 6:41am
not_scottbot (mail):
Fascinating discussion here, when viewed from a German perspective. Back in the 1990s, there were incidents of beatings and firebombings against those who were assumed to be in Germany against what was assumed to be inadequately enforced law, in both cases with fatalities.

One of the most widepread slogans in Germany opposing this disgusting outburst of violence was 'Kein Mensch Ist Illegal,' which translates fairly well into 'no one is illegal.'

Germany is not a place were slippery slope arguments are considered hypothetical, being a moot point in a society which exterminated millions of innocent people on ideological grounds, with a political system which used language to directly justify and implement a final solution to a problem seen in a historical light of a nation being burdened by those who simply didn't belong.

Fascinating to watch Americans argue for the same sort of terminology and basic framework of discussion which was able to sweep through Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s, one where most of those participating in this discussion can be secure that they will not suffer any penalty for not restraining the vicious hate which people are capable of.

Or so some of you seem to believe - but for some of you, it is obvious you are eager to experience that heady sense of society cleansing itself for its date with destiny.

Kein Mensch Ist Illegal - keep in mind which society felt it important to remind its members of that fundamental truth. And contrast it to a society in which the idea of 'illegals' is defended as being necessary for the sake of accuracy in public discourse. In a country with a very bloody recent past, this line underlies government - 'Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar' ('The dignity of man is inviolable,' or perhaps more prosaically, 'No human is ever less than human'), being the first line of the German constitution. Which is followed by 'Sie zu achten und zu schützen ist Verpflichtung aller staatlichen Gewalt.' ('To recognize and protect this is the responsibility of all governmental power.') Notice that the German consitution makes no mention of 'citizen' - since the German political structure which preceded this one had no difficulty in removing citizenship from any category it so desired. And after removing citizenship, the state was quite capable of taking not only the property of those no longer citizens, but also their lives.

'No one is illegal' - at least Prof. Volokh seems to have some idea of the troubling foundation underlying the arguments which deny this truth.
9.17.2009 7:03am
Federal Dog:
"NAHJ prefers using the term "undocumented immigrant" or "undocumented worker" rather than the term "illegal immigrant" which several media outlets have adopted."

I have not read through all the comments, so forgive any repetition. This suggestion is improper because the people in question usually do have documents, and securing those documents often entails identity theft and other offenses. Calling them "undocumented" is therefore false.

Using the term illegals is, by contrast, accurate: Their presence here is not legal.
9.17.2009 7:24am
BT:
U.Va. Grad:

I have some friends who advocate much the same policies as you in terms of open boarders, etc,. What I find interesting is that in the 15 years or so that I have know them, the condo building they live in has 24 hour, 7 days per week, armed security. This building is in a toney neighborhood on the near north side of Chicago. Now I do not know if that is the same for you but I find it quite contradictory that they can choose to live in a building that greatly limits access by the general public and yet advocate policies that provide open boarders to the US, regardless of consequence. My suggestion to them is to move to 71st and Racine, by a house and put a sign on the door saying “Come On In—All Are Welcome.” For some reason they have not taken my suggestion.
9.17.2009 7:47am
PersonFromPorlock:
J. Aldridge seems to have the most accurate term so far:
'trespassers'. If I call for the police to eject someone who has come onto my property without permission, OR overstayed that permission, 'trespassing' is exactly the charge.

But 'trespassers' by itself is too general. I suggest 'non-cit trespassers' ('non-cit' being short for 'non-citizen') for precision's sake. That becomes 'NCT', which is short, sayable and, for the time being at least, connotation-free.
9.17.2009 8:15am
11-B/2O.B4:

No human is ever less than human



This may be, but in a nation of laws, no law can be less. The point is not in any way xenophobia (for me at least, I'm not so naive as to think it doesn't exist at all). The issue is law and border security. There is a vast gulf between "citizen" and "not a citizen". Now, I'm a libertarian, so I think travel should be more or less free, with reasonable restrictions for the security of a society. As far as the giant number of "illegals" in jail for various crimes, somehow I think that number would drop to insignificance if the abortive "war on drugs" were to be abolished. Mexicans (or Ghanians or whatever) are no more violent or less law abiding than we are, they simply follow market forces and economic incentives, much as most of our forefathers did. I fully support immigration reform to make it easier to immigrate to the States. In fact, for all the young men and women out there, I do know of one way of streamlining the process. It's called (gasp) military service.

All that said, I still don't get how people can be against enforcing a law that they don't campaign to change. The question should never be whether or not to enforce a law, it should be whether or not the law should be on the books at all. And no, the "xenophobes and racists" are not powerful enough to stop this legislation. They're fringe groups. Whatever border laws we have are going to exclude someone, somewhere. And those laws need to be enforced. We can argue about who those people should be, we can change that, but we cannot and should not cease to enforce the law the way every other country on the planet does.
9.17.2009 9:00am
epeeist:
I agree they are in the country, they are illegal aliens. If anything, I find the term "aliens" (which also applies to non-citizens legally in the U.S.) somewhat pejorative!

For that matter, if Americans (both individually and corporately) stopped hiring illegal aliens, there'd be virtually no problem.

I don't understand, however, why "abortionist" is objectionable (I mean, I understand why politically something more delicate like "abortion provider" may be preferred, but not why I should care). It's a perfectly good and accurate word, if people don't like it, tough. Just like the word "niggardly".

I don't, however, agree with the term "criminals" to refer to illegal aliens. Some are, but referring to people who violate non-criminal laws or even criminal misdemeanor laws (as opposed to felonies) is questionable. Also, the group of illegal aliens is so broad - including, at the extreme, people brought to the U.S. as babies (by illegal alien parents) who grow up and think they were born in the U.S. (there are stories once in a while about such situations where they only find out when they are approachiing graduating high school and their whole life is messed up). For that matter, if you miscount and accidentally stay one day beyond a 6-month visa or something, you are breaking the law and are an "illegal alien" even if for only a few hours as you go to the airport to leave.

As for illegal aliens generally, I see the situation as malum prohibitum rather than malum in se (for non-lawyers, it's wrong only because it's illegal, if it were legal it would not be immoral, it's not inherently morally wrong like murder or theft). So I have problems with illegal immigration, want stronger enforcement against employers especially (including individuals who hire people on a cash-only basis...), but recognize that if I were in that situation I might choose to leave Mexico (or wherever) and enter another country illegally if I thought it best for my family. My real problem is with hypocrites who e.g. rail against illegal immigrant children in schools while hiring labourers with no questions asked to work around the home because it's cheaper.
9.17.2009 9:01am
Ben P:

Nor is "undocumented immigrant" or "undocumented worker" somehow more "fair" than "illegal alien." Illegal aliens' problem — perhaps it shouldn't be a problem, but it certainly is a problem for them — isn't just that they somehow lack documents. It's that they lack the legal right to be here.



It seems to me that the real question here is one of assumptions.


If you're working under the assumption that free travel and free choice of residence is the default, it would naturally lead you to believe that "undocumented" is more correct. The reasoning would be that these people come here, they have a "right" (in the loosest sense) to be here, and their only problem is that they have failed to comply with U.S. Laws requiring certain documents before one immigrates. Then they are merely "undocumented immigrants" but "immigrants" none the less.


On the other hand, if you start from the assumption that residence/citizenship within a particular nation state is something that is closed off by default and can be opened up by statute or other law, then you would naturally come to the conclusion that "Illegal aliens" is the proper terminology. The reasoning being we have two kinds of people authorized to physically be within the US, Citizens and Aliens. Aliens may only be present when authorized by law, if unauthorized, their presence is illegal and therefore they are "illegal aliens."
9.17.2009 9:14am
rc:
It's true that short labels can carry snark or oversimplification, but look at the other end of the spectrum:

One way to tell when someone is lying is when they take way too long to say a simple thing.

'undocumented immigrant' vs 'illegal'. They can both be deceptive in their own way. But one is already understood and more efficient.

We use a lot of shorthand in our speech, and 'illegal' might be shorthand for racism. But adding syllables doesn't address the core issue; it only obfuscates the language.
9.17.2009 9:45am
rc:
not_scottbot:"Fascinating to watch Americans argue for the same sort of terminology .... where most ... can be secure that they will not suffer any penalty for not restraining the vicious hate which people are capable of."

Americans suffer the penalties of vicious hate, just not on our own soil (with one notable exception). And if we're indeed secure, it's for two reasons: 1. a proven ability to kick fascist butt, and 2. a reluctance to allow the thought-and-language police to tell us how to talk.

'Illegals' may have all the disadvantages that the PC police say, but the alternative is worse.

Any time there's shorthand like 'illegals', it's possible that it's shorthand for bad things. But when three short syllables blossoms to eight, one should assume that the political baggage -and its associated dangers- has increased.
9.17.2009 10:14am
Tom952 (mail):
Unlimited immigration threatens the quality of life in the United States because the United States has limited resources. At a time when we are adopting higher efficiency standards for vehicles to reduce our carbon emissions and dependency upon imported oil, uncontrolled immigration would simultaneously place millions of additional vehicles in service that will consume more fuel and create more pollution. Unlimited population growth also strains our capacity to provide clean water, electrical power, streets and highways, and municipal services including waste water treatment, trash disposal, jails, and prisons. We do not have the resources to sustain our appealing lifestyle and support unlimited immigration.
9.17.2009 10:50am
MartyA:
The choice between "undocumented alien" and "illegal alien" is FALSE. EVERY illegal alien has documents. They might not be much good for the purpose intended, a BlockBuster card to support cashing a check, for example, but they have documents.
If we had honest academics, this would be a subject for intense research. Illegals have an innate obsession with collecting documents, forgeries or not, to achieve specific ends. I've never begun to determine how this obsession is formed other than to believe that it is an Hispanic urban legend based on the perception that gringos are stupid.
If you establish a trust relationship with illegals (and, I do several times a year by providing focused counseling that they desire), they will eventually reach in a pocket, wallet or container and unfold a piece of paper that they allege establishes a fact or claim. Whether it truly does or not, I don't know; my Spanish is not that good and there is always a sincere reason why the name on their document doesn't match the one they gave me or why the classic US document isn't available but the folded one should be accepted in it's place.
But, if you live in an area with large Hispanic populations, watch closely as you pass the parking lot of the MVB. If you have time, you'll see serious conversations and, eventually, what appears to be cash changing hands. Girl Scout Cookie sales? Maybe.
I also enjoy flea markets. At Hispanic flea markets that I go to, there always seems to be a booth, tent or area for "ID cards." I've never had the guts to enter and ask questions but I've, personally, never had the thought of "purchasing" and ID card or going to a flea market to do so.
9.17.2009 10:54am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I think the issue with undocumented worker vs illegal alien is that these are two sets which have an intersection, but neither is a subset of the other. A worker might be undocumented for all sorts of reasons (don't want to file 1099's for example).

Illegal aliens of course is a reasonable set which includes ALL illegal immigrants as well as those who overstayed visas briefly but left within almost reasonable timeframes, as well as aliens who had technical invalidations for visas which might be resolvable.
9.17.2009 10:55am
George Smith:
This is standard MEChA/La Raza agitprop, as they work toward Greater Aztlan.
9.17.2009 11:07am
tyree (mail):
Years ago a talk radio personality read a Los Angeles Times article about the arrest of some "immigrants". The entire article failed to document that they were actually writing about "illegal aliens". To someone who didn't know that "immigrant" was an improperly used code word for "illegal alien" the article led to the impression that people living legally in the US were being rounded up and deported. Under the right political circumstances, some disreputable journalists would rather lie than report the truth.
9.17.2009 11:08am
good0179 (mail):
Why is "abortionist" unduly pejorative? Have you ever required the services of a dental provider, a cardiology provider, or an anesthetic provider, made-up terms parallel to the one you champion for abortionists?

But speaking of names, it's ironic that the NAHJ is objecting to the use of an adjective as a noun, given that this practice is far more widespread in Romance languages like Spanish than in Germanic ones like English.
9.17.2009 11:09am
Mark Buehner:
"undocumented immigrant" is simply inaccurate. Many if not most of the illegals aren't immigrating, they are here to work and end up returning to Mexico.

We are at a political impasse of stupidity. The left wants an open border but is afraid to say so, so they work hard to continue this farcical quasi-open border that gets people robbed, hurt, or killed sneaking across. The right is afraid of a rising demographic tide but is afraid to say so, so they try to keep sticking fingers in dikes.

The logical answer is to establish a temporary worker program available to all Mexicans allowing them to cross the border freely and safely. Then complete this boondoggle of a border fence that keeps getting funded and not built so we can keep the crossings orderly and maybe just keep a terrorist from sneaking a dirty bomb into Dallas. Before the chorus of silliness starts- it is very possible to build a border fence. The Chinese managed it a thousand plus years ago without a bulldozer.
9.17.2009 11:13am
Mark N. (www):

What is the benefit to current US residents of such a policy? I see no reason to have absolute freedom of human movement. Where did you ever get such a notion?

Unless you're a socialist, the question isn't what the collective benefit to US residents is, but what the appropriate relationship between the individual and the state is. I think there's a reasonable libertarian argument against allowing the state to interfere in the private living arrangements of individuals. Now I do agree that if a person is trespassing on someone else's property, then sure, the police power may be used to clear the squatter. But if someone who plans to live on a particular piece of property has made arrangements with the landowner---e.g. by purchasing a parcel, or arriving at a lease agreement---then I don't see the problem.
9.17.2009 11:29am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

That having been said, I would prefer if we were to properly close our borders on the one hand and streamline our immigration policies and their implementation on the other hand.




That’s pretty close to what I favor in the way of “comprehensive immigration reform.” I want our borders secured and our laws enforced. I think that our current immigration policy in terms of both the number and types (e.g. job qualifications) of immigrants may have suited our needs in a different era but it can and should be updated. Also I think that people who try to play by the rules are caught up with unnecessary delays in the process and this must be improved (even if it means more resources which I’m open to especially if those resources come from sponsors, employers who hire immigrants, and/or user fees paid by immigrants). Unless there was some additional detail or rider attached that I found objectionable, I’d probably support a bill that focused on doing just these things.
9.17.2009 11:39am
MCM (mail):
U.Va. Grad:

I have some friends who advocate much the same policies as you in terms of open boarders, etc,. What I find interesting is that in the 15 years or so that I have know them, the condo building they live in has 24 hour, 7 days per week, armed security. This building is in a toney neighborhood on the near north side of Chicago. Now I do not know if that is the same for you but I find it quite contradictory that they can choose to live in a building that greatly limits access by the general public and yet advocate policies that provide open boarders to the US, regardless of consequence. My suggestion to them is to move to 71st and Racine, by a house and put a sign on the door saying “Come On In—All Are Welcome.” For some reason they have not taken my suggestion.


Probably because useless ad hominem attacks don't have any bearing on the debate. Moron.
9.17.2009 11:43am
Maxwell Jump (mail):
How about undocumented Democrat voter?
9.17.2009 11:58am
eyesay:
good0179 wrote "Why is 'abortionist' unduly pejorative? Have you ever required the services of a dental provider, a cardiology provider, or an anesthetic provider, made-up terms parallel to the one you champion for abortionists?"

One has a wart removed by a dermatologist, not a wartectomist. One has a tonsillectomy by a surgeon, a pediatrician, or a otorhinolaryngologist, not a tonsillectomist. One receives bifocals from an optician or an optometrist, not a bifocalist. One has an abortion by a surgeon or a gynecologist, not by an abortionist.
9.17.2009 12:08pm
Bozoer Rebbe (mail) (www):
This is silly.

Well into the 1960s, tv stations ran public service announcements telling aliens to register. There were signs in Post Offices as well.

With the rising popularity of science fiction and the start of the space race, kids would joke about aliens. The Firesign Theater even did an "Aliens must register" bit.

If Iván Román is going to quibble about "illegals" being bad English grammar, I might remind him that in English his name is spelled Ivan Roman, since English does use diacritical marks like the acute accent.

This reminds me of a Japanese supervisor I had who, in diversity bull session, complained that the word "oriental" is offensive. His English wasn't bad for someone who had to take ESL classes to get through an American university, but it certainly was not his native tongue. So I asked him if "occidental" was similarly offensive, since it means western just as oriental means eastern. He didn't get it.

Neither does Ivan Roman, who lectures us on English, in his "Hispanic" accent.
9.17.2009 12:42pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

Neither does Ivan Roman, who lectures us on English, in his "Hispanic" accent.


Actually if we want to get pedantic, Ivan Roman isn't pronounced the same way as Iván Román.

The correct way to spell this in English would be, if we cared, Evahn Romahn.
9.17.2009 12:46pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
Brooks Lyman has absolutely no clue, pretending to just be an informed consumer of news when he's practically just reading from Tamar Jacoby's script. I've been covering this issue for years over thousands of posts, and I can spot a talking points spouter from miles away.
9.17.2009 12:53pm
Tim Nuccio (mail) (www):

"Rather, I believe in pretty much absolute freedom of human movement."

What would be the consequences to the US of such a policy?

1. Many millions of Mexicans and other Third-World people would pour across the border and take up permanent residence.


And what's wrong with that?


2. The millions of new residents could collect social benefits such as free schooling, medical care, food stamps, AFDC etc. The costs would be staggering and unaffordable.


This seems like an argument for getting rid of socialist programs rather than disallowing people from crossing the border.

With that said, if the current people are paying for it, why couldn't more people come here, pay taxes, and pay for it? If the answer is that we're currently running huge deficits and nobody's paying for it, you're right, but nobody cared before.


3. Tax rates for current residents would have to go up or the social programs curtailed or eliminated.


Tax rates are going to have to go up anyway, because for the last 35+ years, our government has run us into some pretty nasty deficits, and promised a whole bunch of people money that it doesn't have and will never have.

If tax increases would be necessary to sustain more people entering the country and working, then they are already too low anyway. And if it encouraged getting rid of some government programs, I fail to see how that'd be a negative thing.


4. Crime would increase.


There's no evidence of this.


5. There would be serious public health consequences.


There's no evidence of this, or even any unified definition of "public health."


6. Per capital energy consumption would increase.


There's no evidence of this and even if there were, it addes nothing to your argument.


7. The new residents being less educated, less skilled and with lower IQs would constitute a dead weight drag on the US economy resulting in a lower GDP per capita.


I fail to see how driving down the average income of each citizen means or measures anything in this debate. So what? If we need the workers and real GDP is growing, that is what we should be looking at--growth in productivity, not per capita GDP.

Perhaps you mistakenly think that per capita GDP is a good measure of standard of living. It usually suffices as a comparative measure, but in this instance, you're trying to analyze a dramatic change in policy that the statistic you're using doesn't have the capability of explaining.



8. The entire nature of US society would change into something else.


Even if true, I fail to see how this is a problem.


9. Terrorists could more easily gain entry.


I don't see how it could possibly get any easier than it is now.



10. Foreign countries could encourage their most problematical citizens to emigrate to the US.


And we'd be glad for their hard work and thankful for their contributions to our GDP growth while the rest of the world stagnates.


What is the benefit to current US residents of such a policy? I see no reason to have absolute freedom of human movement. Where did you ever get such a notion?


The benefit is economic growth, competition in the world market, competition for our labor (and driving the price of American labor down to make us competitive again), etc.
9.17.2009 12:54pm
James Jones (mail):
OK, how about "differently citizened"?
9.17.2009 1:07pm
BT:
MCM, I sincerely apologize for getting under your skin. Since I am a “moron” in your eyes, maybe you can help me. You see, I find it rather problematic that someone would advocate one policy for all and not apply that same policy to themselves. Now, I enter this question to you, knowing full well that I am not your intellectual or moral equal, but, nevertheless, I await enlightenment. What am I missing?
9.17.2009 1:27pm
Detroiter (mail):
I won't get into the discussion about whether illegal is pejorative (which could only be determined by doing some actual sociolinguist research) but it is just plain silly to say that an adjective ending in -al cannot become a count noun (i.e. one that can be pluralized), especially since a good example is being bandied about in this discussion. Criminal is just such a case.
Words mean what users mean by them, and you can try to get folks to stop using them that way, but without a great deal of social power you can't actually make it happen.
9.17.2009 1:32pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Tim Nuccio:

"And what's wrong with that?"

Such a demographic shift would profoundly change the nature of American society. Most Americans don't want to see such a shift. I'm sure the people in Mexico and other Latin American countries would resist having their countries become more like China and less like what they presently are.

"This seems like an argument for getting rid of socialist programs rather than disallowing people from crossing the border."

Why should Americans have to give up their social benefits so we can accommodate a flood of Third World migrants?

"There's no evidence [crime rate increase] of this."


This issue is a sub-thread here. But Hispanics have 3 times the murder rate of non-Hispanic whites. We have lots of evidence for this, from the National Crime Victimization Survey, rates of incarceration, and arrest records.

There's no evidence of this, or even any unified definition of "public health."

Third World immigrants have higher rates of infectious diseases including antibiotic resistant tuberculosis.

"I fail to see how driving down the average income of each citizen means or measures anything in this debate. So what? If we need the workers and real GDP is growing, that is what we should be looking at--growth in productivity, not per capita GDP."

We don't need additional workers, particularly at the low-skilled end. In the years from 1925-1965, the US had spectacular increases in productivity and standard of living. For about the last 30 years real GDP growth has been stuck at a constant 3%, with some fluctuations when recessions hit.

"I don't see how it could possibly get any easier than it is now."

It might be too easy now, but it would become a lot easier with open borders.

"The benefit is economic growth, competition in the world market, competition for our labor (and driving the price of American labor down to make us competitive again), etc."

There is a net loss to the US economy of about $20,000 per illegal immigrant. Their wages, including an economic multiplier effect are insufficient on average to cover the costs of education, medical care, crime, and other benefits. Cheap immigrant labor might be a benefit to certain industries (hotels), but overall they are a net loss to the economy.
9.17.2009 2:01pm
JS Reece (mail):
Let me suggest another term: immigration cheater. After all, what illegal immigration boils down to is people who didn't qualify for a government program, or who didn't want to wait on the waiting list, decided to flout the rules, cheat the system, and grab the benefit anyway. Illegal immigration is no different than people faking residency to get a resident-only job or parking permit, lying about their ethnicity or community service to get into a diversity-obsessed university, hiding income to get into affordable housing, hunting or fishing without a license, etc. Such stuff is generally regarded as cheating, though often not criminal, and when caught we don't give the cheaters a legal path to keeping the job or the affordable apartment or the venison.
9.17.2009 2:07pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mark N.

"Unless you're a socialist, the question isn't what the collective benefit to US residents is, but what the appropriate relationship between the individual and the state is. I think there's a reasonable libertarian argument against allowing the state to interfere in the private living arrangements of individuals."

Anarchy is not the alternative to socialism. As long as we have to pay taxes and deal with crime and other social pathologies, citizens need to be concerned with their collective welfare because we share costs.

If you want to go to the micro level, ok. I don't see any benefit to me personally of an open borders policy. I do see costs, but collective and individual. I personally experienced the costs of unrestricted immigration from Puerto Rico to New York City. In particular my neighborhood:

1. Became more dangerous.

2. Became dirtier. One could walk down the street and get hit with a bag of garbage thrown out of a window.

3. Taxes went up.

4. The quality of schools went down.

5. A tremendous out migration insured, eroding the tax base of the city.

What did I get for all those costs? Nothing.
9.17.2009 2:18pm
JSR (mail):
Let me suggest another term: immigration cheater. After all, what illegal immigration boils down to is people who didn't qualify for a government program, or who didn't want to wait on the waiting list, decided to flout the rules, cheat the system, and grab the benefit anyway. In other words, illegal immigrants are just like people faking residency to get into a top-rated public school or get a resident-only government job or parking permit, lying about ethnicity get into a diversity-obsessed university, hiding income to get into affordable housing, hunting or fishing without a license or ignoring limits, etc. Such actions aren't always big-time criminal, but they are regarded as cheating, and we generally don't give cheaters a legal path to keeping the ill-gotten affordable apartment or parking permit or venison.
9.17.2009 2:38pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
Here's a more important issue involving several similar groups; it'd be great if this site would discuss things like that - and suggest that their readers take action as I suggest - instead of posting about less relevant things like this.
9.17.2009 2:54pm
Laika's Last Woof (mail):
Since only humans make laws, calling someone an "illegal" is supremely humanizing.
Implicit in the illegal's willful defiance of the law is the presumption of knowledge of the law.
Law and free will are both concepts deeply rooted in the human species. Some animal rights activists might argue for free will in certain animals of higher-order intelligence, but no one would dispute that codified law is a strictly human enterprise.
Perhaps our confused journalist isn't quite as familiar with the English language as he thinks he is. He might save himself some humiliation were he to keep his grammar and vocabulary lessons confined to a language with which he is more familiar.
9.17.2009 3:01pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
James Joned:

OK, how about "differently citizened"?


My wife is "differently citizened" but she is here legally.

So that is overbroad :-)
9.17.2009 3:07pm
EMG:

The right is afraid of a rising demographic tide but is afraid to say so


Afraid to say so? Not that I've noticed. They should be afraid - or more to the point, ashamed - but they're not. With each passing day they are increasingly candid about the racial nature of their concerns. Just read some of the comments in this thread, in what is supposed to be a civilized venue. Combined with the growing racial animus against the President, it has the potential to push the country in a very frightening direction.
9.17.2009 3:14pm
rc:
"K, how about "differently citizened"?"

I like it. Seconded.
9.17.2009 3:23pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
24AheadDotCom:

Here's a more important issue [link] involving several similar groups; it'd be great if this site would discuss things like that - and suggest that their readers take action as I suggest - instead of posting about less relevant things like this.

If you're going to post this sort of spam, you really ought to call yourself Cheap24AheadShoesDotCom.
9.17.2009 4:33pm
Dan L (mail):
I tend to oppose the use of the phrase "illegal alien" over "illegal immigrant". While the former may be legally correct, as a matter of public discourse, it didn't really enter the public discourse over the topic of illegal immigration until the last couple of years, and was, it seems to me, selected purposefully with a political intent. "Alien" accents a person's foreignness and invokes negative images in a way that "immigrant" does not. Furthermore, the use of the word "alien" to refer to people in the present public discourse is almost entirely limited to the the phrase "illegal aliens". While it would be technically correct, virtually no one would refer to a British citizen working legally in the U.S. as a "legal alien" or a "lawfully resident alien", outside of a few extremely narrow legal contexts. And one would never refer to a person on a student visa as an "student alien". If "legal alien" is eschewed in the general usage, it is clear that "illegal alien" has been adopted with the clear intent of marginalization.

"Alien", moreover, does not does not seem to have any advantages over "immigrant". Both convey that a person is not a citizen of the US. "Illegal immigrant", therefore, retains the clarity of "illegal" over "undocumented" while avoiding the negative term "alien" in place of the more neutral "immigrant", and accordingly ought to be preferred.
9.17.2009 4:35pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
einhverfr, Oden help you when your wife finds out you called her overbroad. I know, you'll say, to the contrary, it was a term for illegal immigrants you called overbroad, not your wife. Good luck making that argument to the Missez. :)
9.17.2009 4:51pm
James Taranto (mail):
Someone can be an illegal alien without being an illegal immigrant--i.e., if he's in the U.S. illegally but does not intend to stay permanently.
9.17.2009 5:04pm
Seamus (mail):

The problem I see with undocumented worker is that it also encompasses people who are in the country legally, just not allowed to work, such as those on student visas (if they are caught employed).



I'm not sure you'd use the term "illegal alien" for an alien here on a student visa who is working. The work may be a violation of law, but the student's presence in this country is legal.

On another point, I understand that the term "undocumented worker" or "undocumented immigrant" is that it's possible to be in this country legally without documents. (I don't know the details, but a friend whose brother married a Spaniard explained to me that, even though his sister-in-law was awaiting documentation from USCIS, she was indeed legally in this country.)
9.17.2009 5:13pm
liberty or death:
For those that think we should loosen up our immigration policies to allow more LEGAL immigration, here's some interesting info:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4094926727128068265#
9.17.2009 5:44pm
joazinha (mail):
Immigrants are LEGAL newcomers to a country, and are therefore WELCOME; illegal aliens (or illegal immigrants), are ILLICIT newcomers to a country, and are therefore UNWELCOME, and RIGHTLY so!
9.17.2009 6:04pm
Kirk Lazarus:
Are aliens seeking asylum under the 1967 Protocol to United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees illegal aliens?
9.17.2009 7:16pm
Tim Nuccio (mail) (www):

Such a demographic shift would profoundly change the nature of American society. Most Americans don't want to see such a shift. I'm sure the people in Mexico and other Latin American countries would resist having their countries become more like China and less like what they presently are.



Ahh, so we're bleeding hearts, but our hearts only bleed for white people. I see how it is--you really are racist.


Why should Americans have to give up their social benefits so we can accommodate a flood of Third World migrants?



So we can realize the economic growth potential from doing so before our enemies do, and grow their economies to where they can become a legitimate threat to our sovereignty.

Additionally, because to get those benefits, they were at the end of a gun when our government stole from the citizens to get the cash to provide such services.


This issue is a sub-thread here. But Hispanics have 3 times the murder rate of non-Hispanic whites. We have lots of evidence for this, from the National Crime Victimization Survey, rates of incarceration, and arrest records.


That says nothing about citizenship, only race.


Third World immigrants have higher rates of infectious diseases including antibiotic resistant tuberculosis.


Which we have a test for, so if that really were the issue, we'd have open borders and TB tests for everyone (and at their expense).


We don't need additional workers, particularly at the low-skilled end. In the years from 1925-1965, the US had spectacular increases in productivity and standard of living. For about the last 30 years real GDP growth has been stuck at a constant 3%, with some fluctuations when recessions hit.


And I am challenging you to realize that could be the effect of bad policy on immigration, at least partly. And if you actually looked at the positive effects of increased immigration, it would be absolutely clear that it is a net gain to us.


It might be too easy now, but it would become a lot easier with open borders.


Again, no evidence of that. Our borders are completely uncontrolled right now. It would not be any easier or harder for terrorists to enter if we opened our borders.


There is a net loss to the US economy of about $20,000 per illegal immigrant. Their wages, including an economic multiplier effect are insufficient on average to cover the costs of education, medical care, crime, and other benefits. Cheap immigrant labor might be a benefit to certain industries (hotels), but overall they are a net loss to the economy.


That sounds like an argument against social programs, NOT an argument against using cheap labor to grow our economy. Try again.

The problem isn't the immigrants--it's that they're following the wrong incentives to come here, primarily, free riding on our social programs. Eliminate those incentives, and see if they still come here. I bet they will, because we can offer them higher wages and better benefits than they can get at home.

There's no reason immigrants have to cost the American people anything--but we need to fix those policies first.

Spending even more money to try to close the border will simply make our labor market uncompetitive and inefficient and allow these inefficiencies to be exacerbated by policy. We'll have fixed nothing.
9.18.2009 12:33am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Leo:

einhverfr, Oden help you when your wife finds out you called her overbroad.


Good one...

Actually I had one immigration lawyer tell me to try to get her here on a tourist visa and then adjust status.

Believe it or not we did her immigration stuff by the book. Immigration forms for fiancee stuff/adjustment of status/etc. are not difficult to do. I just didn't want to be dishonest about the whole things (fiancee visas, though technically nonimmigrant, are for the purpose of immigration and so have additional requirements that tourist visas don't have).

So actually, my wife is an immigrant but hardly illegal.
9.18.2009 1:01am
HoyaBlue:
Eugene:


HoyaBlue: "Americans," "blacks," "whites," "Hispanics," "Asians," etc. -- all are examples of adjectives that double as nouns, especially plural, even without a "the."


Ah, but not quite the same.

The adjective American or white describes a person.

However, the adjective illegal does not. A person cannot be illegal; an act is illegal.

Therefore, while it may make sense to describe a person as 'a black' it does not make sense to refer to a person as 'an illegal.'
9.18.2009 1:20am
Ricardo (mail):
From what I understand, bringing a wife over on a tourist visa is not per se illegal, as long as she doesn't intend to work or conduct business, has sufficient funds for the journey, a return ticket and an intent to return to her own country, and fulfills all the other criteria.

The bigger problem is that many immigration inspectors will deny entry to the spouse of a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident unless that person has a fiance visa. It's perverse since a woman visiting her boyfriend in the U.S. would have a much better chance of clearing immigration -- once you officially tie the knot, the situation changes even if it is only a short visit. She would face the expense of a wasted return ticket not to mention the potential humiliation of being detained while waiting for a seat on the next available flight. I've heard stories indicating that this does in fact happen.
9.18.2009 1:26am
SlimAndSlam:
A. Zarkov:

I personally experienced the costs of unrestricted immigration from Puerto Rico to New York City.

Um, Puerto Rico is part of the United States. Are you actually talking about immigration, or simply migration?
9.18.2009 9:52am
Leo Marvin (mail):
SlimAndSlam:

Um, Puerto Rico is part of the United States.

Not the "real" United States.
9.18.2009 8:12pm
ricky:
I love how the same leftists who think that it was evil for whites to colonize the world turn around and call whites racist for wanting to keep foreigners out.

This is the same deranged mentality that leads a prominent periodical to publish this:
"From a very young age, minority children are coached to be proud of their ethnic history. She found that this was exceedingly good for children’s self-confidence; in one study, black children who’d heard messages of ethnic pride were more engaged in school and more likely to attribute their success to their effort and ability.

That leads to the question that everyone wonders but rarely dares to ask. If “black pride” is good for African-American children, where does that leave white children? It’s horrifying to imagine kids being “proud to be white.”"

http://www.newsweek.com/id/214989/page/1
9.18.2009 11:23pm
good0179 (mail):
Eyesay wrote:"One has a wart removed by a dermatologist, not a wartectomist. One has a tonsillectomy by a surgeon, a pediatrician, or a otorhinolaryngologist, not a tonsillectomist. One receives bifocals from an optician or an optometrist, not a bifocalist. One has an abortion by a surgeon or a gynecologist, not by an abortionist."

Sorry, that won't do. There are people who almost exclusively perform abortions, and it is perfectly acceptable to refer to them, accurately, by what they do. Even then, plenty of doctors perform multiple functions, each with its own name; an abortionist could be any number of other things besides.

But you're shifting the goalposts. The original debate was between "abortionist" and "abortion provider." If "abortionist" is unduly pejorative, then "abortion provider" is even more unduly euphemistic, given the connotations of the word "provider" and that no other medical specialists are described by it.
9.19.2009 11:46am
Melancton Smith:
ruufles wrote:

So barely a majority oppose a pathway to citizenship, although over a third strongly oppose it. Much less than I expected, given the way the question was phrased.


First, how should it have been worded?

Second, there already is a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens.

1. Go home
2. Apply for immigration and get in line with those who have already applied but maybe don't live in a nation bordering ours.

A co-worker originally wrong India recently became a US citizen and will be sworn in this coming February. He's a great addition and was able to successfully navigate the process to legally immigrate.
9.20.2009 1:30am
Thom:
Wow. People who are desperate for a job walk across an imaginary line, and people not only feel the need to dehumanize these people by treating them poorly, but on top of that they feel the need to call them names!
9.21.2009 2:36pm
ShelbyC:

Wow. People who are desperate for a job walk across an imaginary line, and people not only feel the need to dehumanize these people by treating them poorly, but on top of that they feel the need to call them names!


OK, all homeless folks can stay at Thom's house tonight!! Don't worry about any imaginary lines, door, or anything.
9.21.2009 5:20pm

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