People are not ‘illegal’ or ‘aliens’


By Roxana Amparo, News Editor

According to, the definition of the word “alien” is no longer just a creature from outer space, but it is also actually “a resident born in or belonging in another country who has not acquired citizenship by naturalization; a foreigner.”

Some people will use the word almost over-willingly, not understanding the effect it can have on people.

At times alien is used as if the word does not have a burdening, almost-oppressing connotation attached to it — which it does.

When hearing the word alien, it brings to mind a green creature from outer space, with big black eyes, slimy fingers and a slender body.

Lacking human-like characteristics, the word robs undocumented families of the dignity that is supposed to be given to all in a free society.

It is a reminder that this is not their country, that they do not belong here because of their place of birth, because of their lack of a document.

It is often used without realizing the deep-rooted history of undocumented people in this country and how the power of the word discredits their contributions.

Yes, many people emigrate from their place of origin, but they do it in search of better opportunities, and a better life for their families.

The word illegal means a person is unlawful, when in reality, the action of committing a crime is unlawful.

It is illegal to kill, rape or drive while intoxicated. Does that mean it is right to call people who commit those crimes illegal?

To say that a person is illegal is to say they are unlawful by way of their very existence, even if no crime was ever committed.

In that case, why not call rapists and murderers “illegals” as well?

A large segment of society has embraced the stereotype that if someone is undocumented, they will steal jobs and commit violent crimes, and words such as alien and illegals only solidify those paradigms.

The word criminalise the innocent and makes them appear as if working to create a better life for their family is the equivalent to capital offenses.

Typically, people choose to use the word or words “illegal,” “illegal alien,” “illegal immigrant” to refer to undocumented people.

Having been born in the US, these people have no actual attachment to the word.

And they tend to use the word to rally people of a similar mind-set.

One such person is anti-illegal immigration proponent and former politician Tom Tancredo who opposes legislation such as the DREAM Act, which enables undocumented students to gain permanent residency through education or military service.

Anti-DREAMers believe undocumented people are taking educational opportunities from American students and hinder those trying to get tuition assistance.

When it implies that my hard work, and the hard work of millions of undocumented people should be less than appreciated, I take offense.

It is important to choose our words wisely. For some, the word illegal may not mean anything, but for others it is a painful reminder that some people do not want them in this country.

Roxana Amparo is the news editor of The Advocate. Contact her at [email protected].