- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009


As a sidebar to the arrest of Ingmar Guandique for the murder of Chandra Levy, The Washington Times (”To be ‘illegal’ or not to be — Newsroom question,” Page 1, March 6) took note of how the press shuns use of the “dreaded “I-word” in describing an “illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant.” Media avoid reality by describing Guandique - already in jail for two separate incidents of assaults on young women - with such tender euphemisms as “jailed laborer,” “undocumented worker,” “Salvadoran day laborer,” etc. A recent California Court of Appeals decision clarifies the English-language terminology.

California allows illegal aliens to pay in-state tuition when attending its public universities, while denying this cut rate to out-of-state U.S. citizens and legal immigrants. In a ruling somewhat favorable to 43 out-of-state citizen students who argued this violated federal law (see Robert Martinez et al., v. Regents of the University of California), the court began by defining terms:

”Defendants [the Regents] prefer the term ‘undocumented immigrants.’ However, defendants do not cite any authoritative definition of the term and do not support their assertion that the terms ‘undocumented immigrant’ and ‘illegal alien’ are interchangeable. We consider the term ‘illegal alien’ less ambiguous.”

The 1996 federal law (8 U.S.C. 1623) in question in this case used the term “alien who is not lawfully present” instead of “illegal alien.” The court then drove its point home by declaring: “In place of the cumbersome phrase ‘alien* who [are] not lawfully present,’ we shall use the term ‘illegal aliens.’ ”

The California Court of Appeals is quite familiar with illegal-immigration issues, and they are in the business of defining legal terms. Clearly, “illegal alien” best describes Guandique’s status.



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