Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Catharsis Alert: Immigrant vs Illegal Alien
This week, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she was "insulted" that "illegal immigrant" was equated to criminality.
Well, that quickly brought my blood to a bubbly boil, and convinced me that now is as good a time as any to finally get this off my chest by bringing a modicum of clarity to this scramble of immigration terms--not only for Sonia, but everyone else as well. So, here goes...
A retired Associate Director for Immigration and Refugee Services, and a USCIS board-certified Immigration Counselor for 22 years, from the beginning of the open-borders debate I've been both vexed and annoyed by the widespread muddling of the textbook meaning of the term immigrant.
For the most part, I have concluded that this muddling has been intentional and has been perpetuated by the Left for the sole purpose of advancing its open-border political agenda. Objectively, there is no other reasonable explanation.
Not surprisingly, the MSM and many clueless folks on the Right as well have either deliberately or unwittingly adopted the paradoxical and misleading use of the term "illegal immigrant" which both adds to the confusion and serves to unfairly legitimize the status of an "illegal alien", aka "undocumented alien", or to de-legitimize the status of immigrants.
The short of it is this: by definition, an immigrant is a legal entrant. He or she was properly inspected and entered the country legally; thus, from a legal standpoint, describing a person as an "illegal immigrant" is self-contradictory for it erroneously describes an immigrant as illegal. To be clear, an entrant is either legal or illegal, i.e. an illegal alien/undocumented alien OR an immigrant. It is impossible to be both illegal AND an immigrant.
FYI: Those formally granted refugee or asylee status, a non-immigrant visa (tourist, working, etc), or immigrant status (family reunification case) are, of course, legal entrants. They were inspected by US authorities (i.e. documented), granted that legal status and permitted to enter the country legally. And only if a refugee, asylee, non-immigrant (visa holder) or immigrant violates the terms of his/her admission, e.g. overstaying one's visa or committing a serious crime, will his/her status revert to that of illegal/removable/deportable.
And this: from a sociological--not legal--standpoint, all persons who enter the country may be correctly described as "migrants" or, loosely, as "immigrants". But, just as all citizens are not natural-born citizens, not all migrants/immigrants are legal entrants.
Obviously, the use of term "illegal immigrant" merely adds a patina of legitimacy to an illegal alien's/illegal entrant's/undocumented alien's status. And, of course, that is the tendentious political purpose of many dishonest political hacks and word police on the Left, many of whom should know better.
So, please keep this differentiation in mind the next time you hear someone using the asinine term "illegal immigrant". Call 'em on it.
We are a proud nation of immigrants--NOT illegal aliens, overs-stayers, undocumented aliens, illegal entrants. Pass it on!
And for the insulted and woefully misinformed Justice Sotomayor, you have the following immigration descriptors to rely upon to define an entrant into the United States: either an illegal alien, undocumented alien, illegal entrant OR legal entrant, legal non-immigrant, immigrant. Confusingly mixing and matching to accommodate your "feelings" or political predisposition is irresponsible, ignorant and shamelessly self-serving. Of more importance, it badly depreciates your credibility as a Supreme Court Justice.
There! That's it. Gee, I'm feeling better already...