10 July 2012 ~ 11 Comments

Drop the I-Word

The I-word campaign ran through ARC’s Colorlines is picking up steam.

Charles Garcia wrote an oped for CNN last week, talking about how illegal immigrant is a slur. Conservative commentator, Ruben Navarette, decided to opine that “illegal immigrant” is a shoe that fits. CNN, the lazy and inaccurate reporters that they are, printed both pieces without much fact-checking.

A favorite of this blog, Angelo Paparelli jumped into the newly resurrected debate and called for dropping the i-word. Dan Kowalski, who does an excellent job of giving us all the immigration news that is fit to print, is of the opinion that “unauthorized immigrants” is the way to go.

I’ve written my thoughts on the matter over at New America Media, noting that the line between legal and illegal is too blurry, and noting that painting people with a broad brush is more than likely to be inaccurate. However, I do think that people, especially marginalized groups that are grouped under the broad label of undocumented or illegal, should be free to define ourselves as we wish.

After all, language is a social construction that is not benign. Words are often chosen, precisely, to advance a hegemonic narrative. Throughout American history, this narration has been concerned with labeling anyone who is not white as an “illegal immigrant” starting with the Chinese. I’ve written about the construction of illegal immigration on several occassions and you can read about how the Chinese became our first illegal immigrants here.

Drop the i-word.

  • Mrtea

    So how should we refer to immigrants who commit crimes once they’re here? Are they illegal?
    http://www.immigrationshumancost.org/I wonder if you are aware of the “undeportables”? There are about 100,000 of them. The worst offender is China, but many nations abuse the U.S. as well:

    http://www.vdare.com/posts/convicted-murderer-is-released-to-massachusetts-streets-rather-than-deported

    Your friends in the media struggle mightily to suppress these truths. The pretense that everybody comes here with only good intentions seriously damages your credibility. I live in a county in California with a Mexican majority thanks to uncontrolled immigration. The “Norte” and “Sureno” gangsters terrorize us daily they will shoot you if you happen to be wearing the wrong color. Is this your idea of “diversity”?

    • Obviously, if people commit crimes and are charged, convicted, then they would be referred to as criminals — not illegal, since we are talking about a completely different set of laws. Thanks for pointing this out and proving my point, once again. Your other racist diatribe is undeserving of comment.

  • Mrtea

    So how should we refer to immigrants who commit crimes once they’re here? Are they illegal?
    http://www.immigrationshumancost.org/I wonder if you are aware of the “undeportables”? There are about 100,000 of them. The worst offender is China, but many nations abuse the U.S. as well:

    http://www.vdare.com/posts/convicted-murderer-is-released-to-massachusetts-streets-rather-than-deported

    Your friends in the media struggle mightily to suppress these truths. The pretense that everybody comes here with only good intentions seriously damages your credibility. I live in a county in California with a Mexican majority thanks to uncontrolled immigration. The “Norte” and “Sureno” gangsters terrorize us daily they will shoot you if you happen to be wearing the wrong color. Is this your idea of “diversity”?

    • Obviously, if people commit crimes and are charged, convicted, then they would be referred to as criminals — not illegal, since we are talking about a completely different set of laws. Thanks for pointing this out and proving my point, once again. Your other racist diatribe is undeserving of comment.

  • Mrtea

    So how should we refer to immigrants who commit crimes once they’re here? Are they illegal?
    http://www.immigrationshumancost.org/I wonder if you are aware of the “undeportables”? There are about 100,000 of them. The worst offender is China, but many nations abuse the U.S. as well:

    http://www.vdare.com/posts/convicted-murderer-is-released-to-massachusetts-streets-rather-than-deported

    Your friends in the media struggle mightily to suppress these truths. The pretense that everybody comes here with only good intentions seriously damages your credibility. I live in a county in California with a Mexican majority thanks to uncontrolled immigration. The “Norte” and “Sureno” gangsters terrorize us daily they will shoot you if you happen to be wearing the wrong color. Is this your idea of “diversity”?

    • Obviously, if people commit crimes and are charged, convicted, then they would be referred to as criminals — not illegal, since we are talking about a completely different set of laws. Thanks for pointing this out and proving my point, once again. Your other racist diatribe is undeserving of comment.

    • Obviously, if people commit crimes and are charged, convicted, then they would be referred to as criminals — not illegal, since we are talking about a completely different set of laws. Thanks for pointing this out and proving my point, once again. Your other racist diatribe is undeserving of comment.

  • Great open letter to Ruben Navarrette. I happened to write one, too – the short version is that the frequency of terms like “illegal immigration” is a journalist aberration, and the moral finger-pointing isn’t as black and white as Navarrette implied. The second point you make much more fully in your letter. Here’s a link to mine:
    http://www.hispanicnashville.com/2012/07/ruben-navarrette.html

    Also, if you haven’t seen it already, you may enjoy this letter by a Chinese-American who was ask to donate to the original Statue of Liberty Fund – he noted specifically how Chinese-American youth who had grown up in the U.S. were prohibited from becoming lawyers: (“…Whether this statute against the Chinese or the statue to Liberty will be the more lasting monument….”:
    http://www.hispanicnashville.com/2011/10/liberty.html

    Best regards,

    John Lamb
    Editor, HispanicNashville.com

  • Great open letter to Ruben Navarrette. I happened to write one, too – the short version is that the frequency of terms like “illegal immigration” is a journalist aberration, and the moral finger-pointing isn’t as black and white as Navarrette implied. The second point you make much more fully in your letter. Here’s a link to mine:
    http://www.hispanicnashville.com/2012/07/ruben-navarrette.html

    Also, if you haven’t seen it already, you may enjoy this letter by a Chinese-American who was ask to donate to the original Statue of Liberty Fund – he noted specifically how Chinese-American youth who had grown up in the U.S. were prohibited from becoming lawyers: (“…Whether this statute against the Chinese or the statue to Liberty will be the more lasting monument….”:
    http://www.hispanicnashville.com/2011/10/liberty.html

    Best regards,

    John Lamb
    Editor, HispanicNashville.com

  • Great open letter to Ruben Navarrette. I happened to write one, too – the short version is that the frequency of terms like “illegal immigration” is a journalist aberration, and the moral finger-pointing isn’t as black and white as Navarrette implied. The second point you make much more fully in your letter. Here’s a link to mine:
    http://www.hispanicnashville.com/2012/07/ruben-navarrette.html

    Also, if you haven’t seen it already, you may enjoy this letter by a Chinese-American who was ask to donate to the original Statue of Liberty Fund – he noted specifically how Chinese-American youth who had grown up in the U.S. were prohibited from becoming lawyers: (“…Whether this statute against the Chinese or the statue to Liberty will be the more lasting monument….”:
    http://www.hispanicnashville.com/2011/10/liberty.html

    Best regards,

    John Lamb
    Editor, HispanicNashville.com

  • Great open letter to Ruben Navarrette. I happened to write one, too – the short version is that the frequency of terms like “illegal immigration” is a journalist aberration, and the moral finger-pointing isn’t as black and white as Navarrette implied. The second point you make much more fully in your letter. Here’s a link to mine:
    http://www.hispanicnashville.com/2012/07/ruben-navarrette.html

    Also, if you haven’t seen it already, you may enjoy this letter by a Chinese-American who was ask to donate to the original Statue of Liberty Fund – he noted specifically how Chinese-American youth who had grown up in the U.S. were prohibited from becoming lawyers: (“…Whether this statute against the Chinese or the statue to Liberty will be the more lasting monument….”:
    http://www.hispanicnashville.com/2011/10/liberty.html

    Best regards,

    John Lamb
    Editor, HispanicNashville.com

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