Time for another edition of “Sophistry in Action!” (-tion!…-tion!)
When you label someone an “illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant” or just plain “illegal,” you are effectively saying the individual, as opposed to the actions the person has taken, is unlawful. The terms imply the very existence of an unauthorized migrant in America is criminal.
In this country, there is still a presumption of innocence that requires a jury to convict someone of a crime. If you don’t pay your taxes, are you an illegal? What if you get a speeding ticket? A murder conviction? No. You’re still not an illegal. Even alleged terrorists and child molesters aren’t labeled illegals.
By becoming judge, jury and executioner, you dehumanize the individual and generate animosity toward them. New York Times editorial writer Lawrence Downes says “illegal” is often “a code word for racial and ethnic hatred.”
Two words, mi amigo: nice try.
Let me put the same situation differently: are people who snuck across the border or forded the Rio Grande (hence the term “wet-back”, which is offensive); or even violated the terms of their visas here legally? Of course not. They need not be tried and convicted to be in violation of the law. I still get the speeding ticket (and penalties if I don’t pay), without benefit of a jury trial.
Understand it’s not the “alien” or “immigrant” part we object to. It’s the illegal part. And one’s presence here—illegal as it is—is rarely the only illegal act. IDs are forged, identities (sometimes plural) are invented or stolen, social benefits (intended for citizens) are exploited. We don’t make this up: it happens all the time. The president’s own Aunt Zeituni and Uncle Omar are a clue to how widespread the abuses are.
The term “illegal immigrant” was first used in 1939 as a slur by the British toward Jews who were fleeing the Nazis and entering Palestine without authorization. Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel aptly said that “no human being is illegal.”
Again, nice try. We who disagree with you love to be compared to Nazis. It’s so empowering!
Elie Wiesel is never wrong about anything, but to use his words about Jews taking up residence in the nascent land of Israel and applying them to migrant peach-pickers or lawn-care laborers is a stretch. (Oh, and if there is an equivalent among “undocumented workers” to the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 1922 League of Nations mandate, do please cite reference. The Jews weren’t “illegally” in “Palestine” at all.)
There’s a lot more, but after being called racist and neo-Nazi, who really has the motivation to go on? We’ll only face more ad hominem venom.
Compare to our president, who did a very good thing (if for a very political reason), by attending a naturalization ceremony on Independence Day:
But Obama did more than just welcome members of the military to American citizenship. The naturalization ceremony took a political turn when the president defended his controversial decision to unilaterally enact some provisions of the DREAM Act — which would put illegal immigrants who came to this country at a young age on a path to citizenship, but which has failed to win passage in Congress — and also to renew his call for comprehensive immigration reform.
No doubt the author would approve. Certainly, he would never dare compare Obama to Hitler! (Even if Obama’s deportations have been at a rate that would make Sheriff Arpaio blush.)