Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Words (again!) ~ "Illegal Immigrant"

The Associated Press revised its stylebook recently, deleted the term "illegal immigrant," reversing a decision from six months earlier. The AP did not offer an exact replacement, instead recommending that writers fully describe a person's immigration status. (See LA Times article)

Words again! Personally I don't see the term "illegal immigrant" as degrading, as long as used in full, but using "illegal" as a descriptive noun does tend that way: as in: "he's an illegal".

What replacement of the term illegal immigrant could possibly be any better? Non-visa immigrant? Ad lib immigrant? Elusive immigrant? Undocumented immigrant is used sometimes, I guess that'll be favourite among replacement possibilities.

I used to feel unhappy myself about being termed an "alien" during my early years here, so I can sympathise to some extent with the offended. I had covered all my bases though and was "legal" to the hilt. The USA's immigration laws do not make it easy to become "legal", believe me! You cannot simply apply for a visa because you feel it'd be nice to live in the US for a change, or to find work because your native land doesn't offer what you wish for. Visa's are strictly controlled, and available only under these headings:
Immediate Relative and Family Sponsored
Family Immigration
Marriage to a Foreign National
Spouse or Fiancé(e) of U.S. Citizen
Spouse of Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) in U.S.
Adopting a Child
Employment Visas - requires sponsorship
Investor Visas
Special Immigrants
Employment: Iraqi or Afghan Translators/Interpreters
Employment: Iraqis - Worked for/on behalf of U.S. Government
Employment: Afghans - Worked for/on behalf of U.S. Government
Employment: Religious Workers
Diversity Visa Program - Visas provided are drawn from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.
For more detail see HERE.

Even when a visa is obtained (can be a long-drawn out process - and expensive) that's not the end of the road, unless the visa-holder intended to return to their home country after a given length of time.

It's easy to see why so many immigrants, from Mexico in particular, are here without visas: few, if any of them, would ever have been given opportunity to obtain visas. Who knows how many of them had indeed tried?

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...."

Kidding - weren't ya??
You think that I don't even mean
A single word I say
It's only words and words are all I have
To take your heart away.
(Bee Gees)


Anonymous said...

There was a time when immigration served America well but that time is past. We don't have enough jobs for our own and we certainly can't take everyone in the world who wants to be here.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ I do understand this - but how is it, then, that the "undocumented" seem to find jobs - but they are jobs which most in the USA would consider to be "beneath them"? Surely the government could devise a system of simple, quick and cheap visa application - even in retrospect to cover at leas some of these people, most of whom I believe come here with honourable intention.

R J Adams said...

I've always felt insulted by the description, "alien", as I've commented before. America is a nation of double standards: 'illegal immigrant', but happy for them to do the work US citizens consider too low paid and beneath them. I agree with you, a simple, cheap, visa system to allow them to do this work without having to skulk in the shadows, or drive a car illegally.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ I fear that in US legislation simple-cheap-visa are words never to be seen on the same page, even in the same room - but I don't see any other fair way of dealing with the situation.