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Immigration Advocacy: Don't Use the "I Word" to Describe Your Status, No One Is 'illegal!'

Posted by attorney Kevin Dixler

The media often misuse the words "amnesty" and "illegal." These words are often viewed as negative and offensive. In politics, the word "amnesty" to describe immigration proposals can doom it from the beginning! The media too often desensitizes the public. The media unreasonably describes those who overstay, fall out of status, and enter without inspection by simply using the word "illegal" and "illegal immigrant."

Both words; "amnesty" and "illegal" are demeaning and more often misrepresent the legal status of a foreigner within the civil immigration legal system. There has never been a 'perfect amnesty' in the immigration legal system. That is, there have always been applicants who were disqualified from registry and legalization programs. There will never be a perfect amnesty. Congress has yet to allow those to get green cards who have criminal convictions or more serious immigration violations.

If foreigners who violate civil immigration laws expect sympathy, then they must learn to use more favorable terms to describe themselves. This also applies to Americans who support immigration reform.

Drugs are illegal, not people. This means that you should describe immigration or visa legal status, not define yourself like contraband to be confiscated, inventoried, and deported. People are not cattle to be branded, tazer-ed, and sent to places yet to be determined.

The use of words like "unlawfully present," "undocumented," "overstay," "entered without inspection," "out of status," "sin papeles," and numerous other examples describe a condition that foreigners find themselves in. This abuse of the system and the determination of Americans to find employees, even if they are unlawfully present is what results in violations that may last a life time. What we all must learn is that no human being is illegal.

Chose your words, wisely. Don't use the "i word." Don't describe any immigration law as an "amnesty!"

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