Catharsis Alert: Immigrant vs Illegal Alien

 I just have to get this off my chest. It's been bugging me for years.

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 annoyed by the widespread muddling of the textbook meaning of the term immigrant.

For the most part, this muddling has been intentional and has been perpetuated by the Left for the sole purpose of advancing its open-border political agenda. 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 corrupted term "Illegal immigrant" which both adds to the confusion and serves to unfairly legitimize the status of an "illegal alien", aka "undocumented alien" and to de-legitimize the status of an "immigrant".

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--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 "immigrant". Just as all citizens are not natural-born citizens, not all migrants/immigrants are legal entrants.

Obviously, the use of oxymoronic 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 to Justice Sonia Sotomayor who said she was "insulted" that the term "Illegal immigrant" was equated with criminality, here are your choices, Sonia: illegal entrant/undocumented alien/illegal alien OR legal entrant, immigrant, refugee, asylee, non-immigrant. Willfully or inadvertently mixing and matching to accommodate your "feelings" is both irresponsible and ignorant. Remember you are jurist. The Law must trump your sensitivities. And to even the legal neophyte with access to a dictionary understands that "illegal" means unlawful, illicit, criminal. Get over it.

That's it! Gee, I'm feeling better already.

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Comment by jd collins on February 11, 2014 at 10:42am

undocumented democrat is my preferred term

Comment by Phil McConathy on February 6, 2014 at 2:48pm

Illegal alien sounds good. Also undocumented future Democrat is more correct. If the GOP thinks they are gaining ground by granting amnesty to these people they must be smoking the best weed in America. Any legislator who thinks it is okay for people to enter our country by breaking our immigration laws needs to be voted out of office at the next opportunity. The left will always support law breakers against the natural or legal citizen. Also assimilation just isn't required today and that will end up destroying our Republic if it isn't stopped ASAP.

Comment by Steve Merkel on February 6, 2014 at 8:43am

Amnesty for illegals is a slap in the face to every immigrant who came here legally.

Comment by Jo Gonzalez on February 5, 2014 at 10:58pm

A rose is a rose is a rose,     "Illegal Immigrants" mean very simply, they came here Illegally, and they should be deported.  Not hard,  Not difficult.    People have a feeling, in general ,that our System has been milked, encouraged by the Left, and Mexico using us as their Garbage Dump      Maybe, we do not always use the correct wordage, but the meaning is clear.  Come here legally and assimilate. I am sincerely tired of supporting them.

Comment by Tea Party California Council on February 5, 2014 at 8:30pm

When you plan to visit San Francisco, let me know in advance.  I can organize a Republican/conservative meeting gathering as I have through my two clubs, one for Republicans and another for Tea Party conservative advocates. Love to feature you and this topic as key speaker.

Gail Neira

Comment by Tea Party California Council on February 5, 2014 at 8:25pm

Thank you so much for this extremely academic and intellectual worthy source of enlightenment, factoids and debate useful information for those of us who feel that existing pandering for political opportunists are a violation of our Constitutionally intentions, om direct conflict with our patriotic and U.S. citizenship rights, not become economic victims of political and corporate phony bleeding heart Liberals and corporate elitists whose interests in Amnesty is very, very, very one-sided self serving.  I intend to print this out to use as a reference to reinforce my ability to be more intelligently articulate in justifying my stance against leniency to illiegal aliens.

Comment by Dr. TCH on February 5, 2014 at 7:54pm

Lizzie, here's your "nudge."  Free Enterprise is having something like a "mom and pop" hardware store or liquor store or a small internet business, with ties to the community and a strong sense of ethics.  You have a valuable product or service, and make your living in your transactions with this product or service. Corporate Capitalism is a large concern with no loyalty to anyone, freely moving its assets and plant sites around the world, and soley interested in power politics and the creation of wealth (and generally sporting a large lobbyist presence in Washington and the state capitals). This phenomenon is frequently related to colonialism or imperialism. And, there are frequently links to corrupt entities like the World Bank and IMF (and the "Fed" of course). The first has been, historically, the source of much of the strength of the USA.  The latter has meant the loss of millions of American jobs, and homes, and retirement benefits and savings...and a huge differential between the richest and poorest in this country. Along with Wall Street and banking criminality, it has a lot to do with the dismantling of the American republic, which is terribly sad.  And, yes, the last two presidents have been among the most corrupt in American history. Shameful.

Comment by Jim Delaney on February 5, 2014 at 7:42pm


Your words are heartfelt and totally justified. You have eloquently expressed so many immigrants' well-founded frustration over this politically-motivated lawlessness.

I sincerely wish you would express these sentiments directly to your Senator and/or Congressman the next time either is in town. Not sure what good it would do, but offer to provide testimony at any congressional immigration hearing.

With Americans like you, I am more hopeful than ever that we can restore commonsense and the Rkle of Law to our immigration "system". It's broken because political opportunists and greedy employers want it that way.

Thank you, Karin, very, very much.

Comment by karin zoanelli on February 5, 2014 at 6:42pm

thank you, thank you: my husband, daughter and I came here LEGALLY - had all our documents translated from Italian/German into English at our expense. took health exams as well, all at OUR EXPENSE. and entered this beautiful country under the condition not to EVER BECOME A BURDEN OF THE STATE. we had $2300. in our pockets. Aftyer living her for 15 years we became US CITIZENS - the proudest day of our lives!

to allow lawbreakers to receive a status they do not deserve, and give to these people advantages and rights we waited patiently and legally for is abominable to us.

Comment by Debrajoe Smith-Beatty on February 5, 2014 at 6:09pm


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