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Don’t Call Me Illegal

Since President Barack Obama made his decree to the country to look the other way on illegal immigration, the debate cup “hath runneth over.” The debate has literally split the country: in a recent FOXNEWS poll, a little over fifty percent of those polled agreed with what should now be called the Obama Immigration Edict.

On the heels of this debate comes another movement that is slowly gaining ground and is sure to start yet another firestorm of discussion around the water cooler and dinner table. There is a national movement known as “Drop the I Word”; this group has been pressuring major media outlets as well as radio personalities to stop calling illegal aliens, just that, illegal.

Out of this movement, hundreds of smaller movements have sprung forth. One of these movements has made its way into the national news this past week. In the small town of Woodbury, New York, immigrant advocates and several illegal immigrants met to protest the use of the term “illegal.” Several members of the group gave statements to the media and the general consensus in the group is that the word “illegal” is racist and makes them all feel “uncomfortable.”

One quote given by Osman Canales described the word illegal like this, “It’s a racist word against our community…” This is pretty much in line with statements made by the “Drop the I Word” campaign in which they referred to the word illegal as a slur.

So the question begs to be asked: when did this term become such a racist slur? Does anyone remember when it simply meant something that was against the law?

A student who was at the demonstration and described herself as undocumented said, “By saying illegal, they’re assuming that we broke a criminal law.” Well, unfortunately for a young lady who is a student at Tour Law Center, she must have forgotten about Section 1325 of the U.S. Code that states that illegal entry into our country is punishable by no more than six months is prison. For each resulting conviction you can spend up to two years in prison. The idea that illegal aliens are not breaking the law by simply being here is a fallacy, not to mention all of the residual crime that comes with illegal aliens like identity theft and document fraud, just to name a few.

Mr. Canales has also asserted that using the term illegal criminalizes an entire community of people. Well, this is a correct assertion to make. It does in fact criminalize an entire community of criminals. Rapists and murderers don’t like to be called rapists and murderers but at the end of the day it is in fact what they are.

The fact that these groups have gone as far as to call the term “illegal” a racist slur only proves to legal Americans that it is nothing more than a ploy to change the narrative in the United States on immigration. Race has been used as a tool to change many narratives in political discourse over the years but never to the point of converting what amounts to a universal adjective to a racial hot button. What group is being racially stereotyped here?

According to Pew, illegal aliens make up four percent of the United States population. Granted the majority of these aliens come from Mexico and various other Latin American countries; however Asians, Europeans and Canadians as well as Africans make up over two million people.

So who is really pushing this agenda of “illegal” being a slur for Hispanic Americans? In reality, illegal immigrants come from every walk of life and every race. So are we looking at the first racial slur that covers everyone?

In closing, we should look at the reality of what life is like in the United States. As much as illegal aliens seek to be part of the American fabric, they also seek to set themselves apart. Illegal aliens, particularly of Hispanic origins, are guilty of refusing to assimilate into the culture of the United States. Just last month an Olympian carried both the American and Mexican flag to the podium to receive his metal. Until this group of people seeks to be apart of America, there is little chance that America will be willing to welcome them in as one of their own.

Image:Immigrant rights march for amnesty in downtown Los Angeles, California on May Day, 2006.Courtesy of Jonathan Mcintosh

Mark Mayberry

Mark Mayberry lives in Tennessee and is pursuing a Law Degree. He hopes to work in politics and law after graduating. He is also a staff writer at and is the operator of Mark is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys spending time hunting and fishing as well as with his family. You can reach Mark on Facebook and Twitter as well as his website