Editor's Note: Is the term "illegal immigrant" a slur? Last year New America Media asked the media serving U.S. immigrant communities what term they use to describe undocumented immigrants: How Do Ethnic Media Say 'Illegal Immigrant'? Now the question is sparking a debate in mainstream media.
Last week Charles García wrote a CNN opinion piece, “Why 'Illegal Immigrant' Is a Slur.” Columnist Ruben Navarrette responded with a CNN opinion piece titled, "'Illegal Immigrant' Is the Uncomfortable Truth."
In the following open letter to Ruben Navarrette, law school student and Dream Activist leader Prerna Lal, whose own immigration status is in limbo, argues that the term "illegal immigrant" doesn't accurately describe the fluidity of immigration status.
I enjoy your writing, probably more than most people. You hold President Obama accountable for his abhorrent immigration policies. You stick it to the Republicans for hating on immigrants because their hate has to do with the color of our skin. And you generally make a lot of sense.
But you are wrong when you say that “illegal immigrant” is the correct lexicon to use for people without proper immigration status because the shoe fits. The uncomfortable truth is not that “illegal immigrant” fits but that painting a wide range of complex immigration statuses with the broad brush of “illegal” is all too convenient, lazy and just plain wrong.
Honestly, I don’t know anyone who enjoys breaking the law. Some people immigrate here legally because they have the privilege of doing so while many others have to use improper channels to come here so that they can provide safety and refuge for their loved ones, or pursue their dreams in the land of opportunity. Many people eventually adjust their status and become legal residents, disproving the notion that being without proper immigration status
Temp agencies, ‘raiteros’ exploit undocumented
Ty Inc. became one of the world's largest manufacturers of stuffed animals thanks to the Beanie Babies craze in the 1990s.
But it has stayed on top partly by using an underworld of labor brokers known as raiteros, who pick up workers from Chicago's street corners and shuttle them to Ty's ...
ASSET Bill: ‘People do believe in humanity’
Moments after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the ASSET bill at the Student Success Building on the Metropolitan State University Denver campus this week, a beaming President Stephen Jordan went to the microphone and put an exclamation point on an historic event.
“ASSET,” he proclaimed to ...
Citizenship must reflect more humane principles
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) finds the immigration bill introduced last week a modest start on reform, due to provisions that address family unification and workers’ rights and create a narrow path to citizenship for some immigrants. But much of the bill reproduces many of the ...
Communities of color face higher environmental risks
This week we celebrate Earth Day, an international campaign for environmental awareness and protection. While this is a time to celebrate our planet, we are also reminded of the great environmental risks facing communities of color and their resilience to protect both the planet and their ...