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Marty Lich

Much Ado about Nothing?
By Marty Lich
Feb 5, 2004 - 2:56:00 PM

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Undocumented workers, immigrants, illegal aliens, Nationals ...

Words, just words. But are they really just words, which we learned can never hurt you? Or Sticks and Stones which are being thrown? According to Jerry Gonzalez with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials located in Atlanta some of these words represent slanderous and horrible name-calling. He likens the ‘N’ word, which is used to derogatorily describe another person’s race to the word ‘illegal’ used to describe an unlawful action. Americans are finding themselves embroiled in a wordy discussion at best and a racist name-calling discussion at worst. Confusing issues, these seemingly simple words create.

What is the correct terminology? Seems to depend what area you are approaching it from. According to the mass media 'immigrants' seems to be the kindest terminology. If you are affiliated with the United States Border Patrol and the Immigration and Naturalization Services, ‘illegal alien’ fills the bill perfectly. And if you are a newscaster on our local television news stations the word ‘National’ from any country other than the United States of America seems to be just fine.

And then there is the general population in the United States. If you belong to a Hispanic Rights group, ‘undocumented worker’ is appropriate. If you belong to the general citizenship of America, ‘illegals’ seems to work well. And if you are an employer of these people ‘undocumented immigrants’ is deemed the Best in Show for employer terminology.

Perhaps we need to examine the origins of the various descriptive words all pertaining to exactly the same violations and the people they involve and then examine our very humanity that is influencing these words.

  • Illegal. adjective
    • Not authorized by law: UNLAWFUL, ILLICIT
  • Alien. adjective
    • Relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country: FOREIGN
  • Undocumented. adjective
    • Lacking proper immigration or working papers
  • Immigrant: noun
    • One that immigrates :a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence
  • Worker noun
    • One that works especially at manual or industrial labor
  • National: adjective
    • Of belonging to or relating to a nation

Having considered all the various dictionary explanations and meanings, nouns and adjectives, which one best describes a person who willingly and illegally crosses a border entering unauthorized into another nation? Again, it depends on where your perspective is.

  • ‘Undocumented immigrant’ describes a person who lacks legal entry papers and has emigrated unauthorized from another country.
  • ‘Undocumented worker’ implies that the person without legal permission to enter the country is now working at labor jobs illicitly in that unauthorized country.
  • ‘National’ simply states that the person is from another country of origin. It does not clarify if that National is a visitor to the country, an illegal emigrate or a legal visa entrant.
  • ‘Illegal alien’ describes an unlawful act resulting with an illicit resident who owes allegiance to another country other than the one they reside in.

What’s most humane with these word choices? American citizens are very accommodating and a kind-hearted group of people overall. We really love our diverse and varied society and we value our little random acts of kindness. What is considered kind representations of people while at the same time remaining fully descriptive so that we can all remain on the same page here?

Not only is remaining on the same page important folks, but the same chapter is also critical. Otherwise we lose something in the translation. And that is truly crucial and not a simple case of “Much Ado about Nothing”.

Our proposed Guest worker AKA amnesty will not be offered to anyone who has committed a criminal act and/ or disrespects our country’s laws. Which effectively just ruled out the Immigration and Nationalization Services (INS)’ Illegal Alien’ wording as these offenders not only disrespected our laws, they have committed a misdemeanor crime, a criminal offense under Federal Code 8 U.S.C.1325, which is punishable under U.S. Code Title 18.

Leaving ‘Nationals’ and ‘Immigrants’ as the only correct back-door terminologies for our new guest worker sans amnesty proposals doesn’t it?

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