Guest Column: Call Them 'Illegal'

Jose Aliseda
Jose Aliseda

I have been asked how to refer to people who are in this country illegally — as illegal aliens or by a softer term such as undocumented immigrants. I suppose as a legal immigrant to this country at the age of four, I might have a different perspective than someone who has not had at least part of those terms applied to them during their life. I remember growing up being referred to as a green card alien or a registered alien and being somewhat embarrassed by the term “alien” as if I was a little green man.

But I am a United States citizen now and I have been a licensed attorney for 28 years. As an attorney, I have been trained that words in the law have meaning and definitions. I have been licensed to practice in federal court for 23 years. I have represented, by court appointment, many persons charged with illegally re-entering this country after deportation. In the United States Code, wherein this nation’s laws are codified, persons who are here illegally are called “illegal aliens.” So it is, for example, that you can have a statute titled “8 U.S.C. § 1365: US Code - Section 1365: Reimbursement of States for costs of incarcerating illegal aliens and certain Cuban nationals.”

Referring to persons, things, and matters in their proper legal terms and common definitions is very important for a lawyer and should be important for a layperson and society as a whole. This is supposed to be a nation of laws after all. That is why, as a conservative, I am extremely frustrated by the liberal political correctness movement, supported by the “style books” of the liberal media, which is devoted to promoting an alternative terminology that seeks to assert a more positive aspect to negative or undesirable qualities. For example, those that are pro-abortion rights are referred to in some publications as “pro-choice.” Or those who are professional political agitators are referred to as “community organizers.”

Make no mistake about it, those political parties, organizations, and persons that sympathize with, exploit, or pander to people illegally in this country are using today’s hyper-politically correct culture to try to change the term “illegal alien” to something that does not contain the negative connotations of the word “illegal.” The word “illegal” is an adjective and means something is prohibited by law and/or involving or being a crime. By slowly removing that term, and to a certain extent the word “alien,” which also carries with it a somewhat negative connotation, from our nation’s vocabulary, and substituting a euphemism such as “undocumented immigrant,” or “undocumented person,” they hope to change the public’s acceptance of persons here illegally.

I, for one, will continue to use the term “illegal alien,” to refer to persons who are unlawfully here, and I hope and pray that American society soon wakes up and rejects the political correctness movement before it blurs all the lines between right and wrong and destroys our country from within.

Jose Aliseda, R-Beeville, represents District 35 in the Texas House of Representatives