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Illegal Alien/Immigrant - 5 Cents
Posted by: Mark Nichols

12 Nov 2011

This news is a couple of months old, but I just discovered it this week.


The SPJ, Society of Professional Journalists, recommended stopping usage of the term “illegal alien” and wants “re-evaluation” of the use of “illegal immigrant.” They would prefer using “undocumented immigrant.” They cite the following reasons for this recommendation:


1)  Those phrases are increasingly used pejoratively (i.e., they belittle);


2) The US Constitution says everyone in the country (regardless of being a citizen or not) is innocent until proven guilty. It’s the court system’s job to determine if a law has been broken.


My quick thoughts: “immigrant” is defined as someone trying to live in a new country permanently. If that immigrant came without proper documentation, that's illegal (regardless of being caught, prosecuted, and convicted).


If an article is being written about an individual, throw “alleged” in there like is done for every crime-related story nowadays. But if the person in question has admitted to or been convicted of not having documentation, then I see no issue with use of the word illegal.


If an article is being written about a group of people generally who just moved to the US with no intention of leaving and who don’t have proper documentation, I think illegal immigrants/aliens is totally accurate.


I believe most usages in the media (entertainment news and actual journalism) are in reference to a group, so illegal immigrants is appropriate… although it would nice if people could be nice to each other and not use terms with rude intent. I do understand the frustration over lack of enforcement of our laws. Ideally we’d have a reworked immigration and enforcement system that made moot this entire issue.


© 2011 Dime Brothers
Category: Politics    

Reader Comments:

Good Comments
From a 23 Oct. 2012 Tuesday Morning Quarterback article on ESPN.com comes the following quote:

"Jay Brubaker of Indianapolis replies, 'Generally, when referring to a person or group of people who have committed a specific crime, we use terminology that describes the specific illegal act itself. For example, I would say that I was stopped by the police for speeding, not for illegal driving. We don't refer to Jerry Sandusky as having been convicted of engaging in illegal sex, we say he is a convicted child molester.

'It is not that undocumented immigrant is a euphemism, rather, the term illegal immigrant is a dysphemism. Per the Supreme Court, most immigration crimes are an administrative law matter. However, persons accused of immigration crimes have fewer rights that others, such as limited rights to counsel or limited rights to judicial review of their detention. Rather than being innocent until proven guilty, persons accused of entering the United States illegally have the burden to prove that they do possess proper documentation. This makes 'undocumented' the right adjective.'"
TMQ Link
26 Nov 2012

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