The New York Times Using Term Illegal Immigrants Is Correct
The York Times Public Editor had a interesting blog post defending their use of illegal alien and illegal immigrant. She says in part :....But in referring in general terms to the issue of people living in the United States without legal papers, we do think the phrases “illegal immigrants” and “illegal immigration” are accurate, factual and as neutral as we can manage under the circumstances. It is, in fact, illegal to enter, live or work in this country without valid documents. Some people worry that we are labeling immigrants as “criminals” — but we’re not. “Illegal” is not a synonym for “criminal.” (One can even park “illegally,” though it’s not a criminal offense.)Proposed alternatives like “undocumented” seem really to be euphemisms — as though this were just a bureaucratic mix-up that can easily be remedied. Often those phrases seem deliberately chosen to try to soften or minimize the significance of the lack of legal status. We avoid those euphemisms just as we avoid phrases that tend to cast a more pejorative light on immigrants. For example, we steer clear of the shorthand “illegals” and also the word “aliens,” both of which we think have needlessly negative connotations.I largely agree with that though personally I don't find the term alien all that negative. So I often used both.That being said as a pragmatic supporter of immigration reform that includes pathway to citizenship I support those terms. When trying to persuade a person that is open to some pathway to citizenship to call these people undocumented immigrant just causes their eyes to roll. These people are open to immigration reform but want some assurance we shall be doing this again in twenty years. Usually such terms that downgrades the fact that people entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas . I find this generally stops the discussion and just makes them mad.Further the term "undocumented" gives ammunition to opponenets of immigration reform that say the ultimate goal is just "open borders". A charge that many of us that support immigration reform have to spend a great time disputing .