Cheap Seats 2018
What’s In A Name? - 06/27
By Rich Trzupek
Way back, when some American citizens noticed that an increasing number of non-American citizens were crossing the border into America and staying here, we had a term to describe those people: illegal aliens.
That term was in common use circa 1980. It was not then considered pejorative, merely descriptive. Four decades later, using the term “illegal alien” to describe someone who crossed our borders and settled in our country without going through the required legal processes dutifully enacted by our elected representatives would quickly be labeled “racist” by most in the mainstream media, the Democratic party and a fair number of Republicans desperate to worship at the altar of political correctness.
There is, of course, nothing inherently racist about the term “illegal alien.” It describes anyone who enters the United States and settles within its sovereign borders without going through lawful due process. Period. “Illegal” refers to that person’s decision to disregard the lawful process, the same sort of immigration process exercised by practically every other nation on planet Earth.
“Alien” refers to the fact that the person in question was not an American citizen, nor held a visa allowing him or her to settle permanently within America’s borders. While the majority of illegal aliens in America today trace their heritage to Latin America and, to a lesser extent, Muslim-ruled nations, that’s not true of all of them. Illegal aliens also come from Europe, African states and a variety of nations in Asia. What binds them together is their conscious effort to avoid due-process, not their race, creed, nationality or color.
None-the-less, the term “illegal alien” fell out of fashion as political-correctness decried that those two words were racist at their core, supposedly representing a cleverly calculated, yet subtle, racial insult that exclusively targeted Latinos.
And so, about the time that President Reagan and House Speaker O’Neil forged an agreement that would both pardon past illegals (which it did) and duly identify and deport future aliens who crossed the border without government approval henceforth (failing miserably in this case), the term “illegal alien,” which had begun to be viewed in a negative light, was replaced by the term “illegal immigrant.”
“Illegal immigrant” was still thought, on the whole, pejorative, but it was softened. An “alien,” while not necessarily being undesirable was at least an unknown, someone who had not been vetted by the government, whose motives for attempting to establish residence in the United States were not fully known and whose character – vis-à-vis criminal history, etc. had not been investigated, as had been the case under previous immigration policy since circa 1920.
An “immigrant,” by contrast, was assumed to be someone of good character, seeking to settle in the US of A for all the right reasons. We are, as we often proudly proclaim, a nation of immigrants. Ergo an “illegal” immigrant should be distinguished from legal immigrants only by the technicalities engrained in the bureaucracy that controls immigration.
Not a big deal, but still a deal of some-sort. The “illegal” part could be explained away, but – on the left – it still delivered the wrong sort of message to many Americans who might be swayed if the message could be polished to a higher gloss. The PR folks put their collective heads together and the newest and bestest term “undocumented immigrants” came into being.
This was another great leap forward. We were no longer to be concerned about who might be crossing our borders in contravention of the law (don’t call them “aliens”) nor were we to worry about the application of the law itself (don’t call them “illegal”). From this point forward, they were immigrants, just like all the other immigrants who built America, with the exception that somebody – undoubtedly some idiot bureaucrat – screwed up the paperwork at some point. An immigrant who happens to be “undocumented” clearly deserves documentation and it is thus the government’s clear duty to take care of the oversight.
Which brings us to where we are today, to a point in time in which it is considered a racist thought-crime of the highest order to use any term that implies that unknown people from unknown origins crossing the border with the intention of settling in the United States for unknown reasons might deserve a bit of extra attention. They are simply “immigrants” without need for qualification of any kind. No distinction need be made between their legal right to establish residence in the United States and the experience of my grandparents and the ancestors of countless other legal immigrants who went through the duly established immigration process.
This linguistic journey from “illegal alien” to “immigrant” we are told should not be confused with the idea of “open borders”, a concept that the left understands is repugnant to a majority of Americans. Heavens no! They don’t support “open borders.” How could they? That would cost them votes.
But, they’re all in when it comes to allowing any Tom, Dick or Harriet to cross the border, settle in, start drawing public benefits and – should they be so inclined – cast their votes in favor of the party that made it all happen. If that’s not “open borders” my friends, what is?.