- - Sunday, September 10, 2017


Words have been abused and, like, cheapened in our present day, but they’re still, like, important. He who controls the language, as Orwell reminded us, controls the debate. One of the satellite arguments in the debate over immigration is what to call those who break the law by crossing the border illegally.

The logical words are “illegal alien,” and those are the words most people use, but some who cringe at everything correct but their politics, take exception to the reality. Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC says “illegal” is “offensive” and “not correct.”

The words may offend Miss Mitchell’s delicate sensibilities (an odd argument from a reporter of the news), but the words are not incorrect. The Supreme Court, in effect and in practice, says so.

U.S. Circuit Judge Andrew Hanen took note of this two years ago when he enjoined the implementation of one of Barack Obama’s fanciful attempts to make immigration law, and explained that he would use the terms “illegal alien” and “illegal immigrant” even if they offended “a certain segment of the population” because they are the terms “used by the Supreme Court in its latest pronouncement pertaining to this area of the law.”

In considering an Arizona law that required state and local law-enforcement agencies to check the immigration status of those whom they detain or arrest for other offenses if they reasonably suspect that the person arrested entered the United States illegally, the high court unanimously held in the 2012 case — Arizona v. United States, if Miss Mitchell wants to review it — the part of the law about asking about immigration status. Other particulars of the law were not. The court used the term “illegal alien” almost a dozen times in the decision and in three dissents.

The words “undocumented immigrant” is incorrect on its face because anyone arriving in the United States is not an immigrant until he is documented. The term “undocumented immigrant” is a weasel word invented by certain news organizations out to make a political point, and this, observes National Review, enables them to call anyone who wants the law to be enforced as “anti-immigrant.”

If you can be labeled “anti-immigrant” you’re probably anti-everything good, children, flowers, puppies and maybe even anti-kittens. But ours is a nation of immigrants, as politicians who can’t afford a speechwriter with an aversion to cliche are always reminding us. Franklin D. Roosevelt, addressing the Daughters of the American Revolution at Constitution Hall, famously opened a speech with a salutation to “my fellow immigrants.”

The late civil-rights icon Barbara Jordan, who was the chairman of Bill Clinton’s Commission on Immigration Reform and had quite a reputation for eloquence herself, more than two decades ago decried the libel that someone who wants to control legal immigration is necessarily “anti-immigrant.”

“It is both a right and a responsibility for a democratic society to manage immigration so it serves the national interest,” she said. “Unless this country does a better job in curbing illegal immigration, we risk irreparably undermining out commitment to legal immigration.”

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide