Aug 10

They Are Aliens, and Illegal

More Misinformation from the Media:

Words matter. In a democracy that values the rule of law, word choice is important, especially when those words come from voices of authority. . . . Three times in the news release, the phrase “illegal alien” was attributed to the attorney general. . . . Why does this matter? The phrase “illegal alien” plays into assumptions that immigrants living in this country without proper documentation are criminals. In fact, immigration status is often a civil matter, not a criminal one. – Loaded ‘illegal alien’ phrase introduced in sanctuary cities crackdown, Ted Slowik, the Chicago Tribune, 7/27/17. [Link]

Fact Check: “Illegal alien” is a term of long-standing formally recognized by the U.S. government, one example being the Internal Revenue Service. It is a factual description of a foreigner living in the United States without legal authorization. It is not a “loaded” phrase designed to give a false impression or malign people.

While it is true that illegal residence by foreigners in the U.S. is often not a criminal offense, it is at least a civil infraction which constitutes a violation of the law. An example is a foreigner who enters the U.S. on a temporary legal visa and then remains beyond the time the visa allows. Such an alien most definitely is illegally residing in the United States. But even if illegal residence is in the in the civil category, the violators in this category commonly commit criminal offences in order to maintain their residence, such as document fraud to obtain benefits and tax evasion.

So why do some commentators so strongly object to the term illegal alien? It truly appears that their agenda is to make it appear that illegal aliens have done nothing significantly wrong. Most often they call them “undocumented,” suggesting that their only problem is a lack of papers. This verbal sleight-of-hand diverts attention for the relevant issue: They lack legal papers because they are here illegally. In effect, these commentators are saying that our immigration laws don’t matter. Certainly that implies that the democratic right of the American people to decide who comes into our country doesn’t matter either.

Thus it is highly ironic when Slowik proclaims that our democracy should value the rule of law and that word choice matters. By suggesting that illegal aliens aren’t really illegal, he chooses words that undermine the rule of law.

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