I have been asked how to refer to people who are in this country illegally — as illegal aliens or by a softer term, like undocumented immigrants. I suppose as a legal immigrant to this country at the age of 4, I might have a different perspective from those who have not had at least part of those terms applied to them during their lives. 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 people charged with illegally re-entering this country after deportation. In the United States Code, wherein this nation’s laws are codified, individuals 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 who 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 people who sympathize with, exploit or pander to individuals 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 that something is prohibited by law and/or involving 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 people 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.
Aliseda, R-Beeville, represents District 35 in the Texas House of Representatives.