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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.