UCLA Students Declare “Illegal Immigrant” To Be Racist And Discriminatory

Ucla_logoDespite the obvious free speech concerns, UCLA’s undergraduate student government unanimously passed a resolution  last week to declare that  any use of the term “illegal immigrant” is now deemed racist and offensive.  It is an example of how anti-discrimination policies are cutting deeply into free speech.  Millions of people in this country are indeed here illegally.  While many would prefer to use “undocumented workers,”  many others believe that these individuals are illegal by definition and should not be allowed to circumvent immigration laws.  It is a worthy debate with arguments on both sides. However, I am very uncomfortable with students (who historically have been voiced for free speech) declaring that use of this descriptive term is now considered racist or prejudicial.

The resolution, entitled “Drop the I-Word,” stated:

“[W]e are aware that certain racially derogatory language used in media, political discourse and other institutional settings has historically bolstered the foundation for racially harmful actions, including racial profiling practices, punitive policies targeting socially marginalized groups, hate crimes and violence . . . the use of the term illegals (the ‘I-word’) and its derivatives when referring to people dehumanizes and divides communities, contributing to punitive and discriminatory actions aimed primarily at immigrants and communities of color . . . undocumented students at UCLA and across the UC have expressed their concerns and fear with the recent appointment of Janet Napolitano, former US Secretary of Homeland Security, as the new University of California President…”

The students also declared “Journalists have an obligation to use neutral language that promotes democratic dialogue and upholds professional ethics and standards, and the term illegals is incorrect and inaccurate usage, as well as unfair and offensive.” Some news organizations have agreed not to use the term while others have objected that the status of many of these individuals is by statute “illegal.”

My concern is that such declarations chill speech by declaring certain words to be de facto racist or prejudicial. We have seen recently students leading fights to limit speech, including the recently successful campaign of Jewish French students to punish people for speech on the Internet. While many prefer to use “undocumented workers,” others find that description as inaccurate and want to refer to the illegal status of the individuals as lacking entry papers or permission to remain in the country.

What do you think?

81 thoughts on “UCLA Students Declare “Illegal Immigrant” To Be Racist And Discriminatory

  1. reply to leejcaroll:

    For the record… I am a big supporter of “immigration”, and would like for it to be increased. I welcome and appreciate legal immigrants, and I value their importance to our country, both in the past and going forward. It’s the illegal immigration that I dont care for.

    And, I dont want to punish people for “the sins of their fathers”. But, we all find ourselves in tough situations through no fault of our own through circumstances. These people have a problem for sureand certainly it’s a raw deal. But, I dont think giving them special consideration and permission to stay in the country serves the larger point of having a solid immigration policy. I think, unfortunately, that it encourages more illegal immigration.

  2. Thght this was interesting a petition to NY TImes stop using the “I word”

    Tell the New York Times to Stop Using the “I-Word”
    author: Care2.com
    target: Phil Corbett, New York Times Deputy…
    signatures: 80,992

    After years of controversy, the Associated Press has announced that it will no longer use the word “illegal” to describe undocumented immigrants. Now, let’s ask the New York Times to do the same.

    The use of the term “illegal” rather than “undocumented” only serves to reinforce the already rampant racism commonly employed when discussing immigration issues in the United States. Declaring an entire group of diverse people to be “illegal” only serves to further dehumanize them.

    Many major TV networks have already denounced what campaigns are calling “the I-word.” The AP has now made a pivotal move in the world of print media.

    Thus far, the New York Times has been hesitant to adopt any sort of public stance on the matter, but if we push hard enough, this well-respected paper could be a model for the rest of the nation’s media.

    Tell New York Times Deputy News Editor Phil Corbett to take a stand for objectivity and erase the “I-word” from his paper’s vocabulary!


  3. So, I have bettykath down as saying “undocumented unworker” for those illegals here that aren’t working. I think felon is discriminatory and should be banned. I also believe that since virtually all people on sexual predator lists are male that it must be sexist, and therefore discriminatory. I love skiing down that slippery slope.

  4. Come on, Nick, don’t put words in my mouth.

    My distinction is similar to telling a child that he’s “bad” or telling a child that his behavior is “bad” which is a more precise description. A big difference.

    As to your bigoted comment, most immigrants, properly documented or not, tend to be very hard working. If they are not paid under the table, to the benefit of the employer, they pay income taxes just like the rest of you and many of them don’t file for their refund so they actually pay more.

  5. bettykath, Please read my first comment. They are still illegal like a person who commits a felony is a “felon.” If you don’t want to be called illegal, then don’t be. However, please read my first comment. I have been on the record here several times saying I love Mexican immigrants, legal and illegal. And, they are some of the hardest working people to EVER come to this country. They are very much like my people, Italians. I will not go w/ PC. Not ever.

  6. An in-law’s parents came here illegally many years ago. My in-law was born here. Should she be sent back to her parents original home?

    • YES They suffer the consequences of committing a crime as do ALL US citizens. They most certainly should be deported and they will be banned from the US for at least ten years. She can obviously go visit them and do whatever she wishes to do for them. I posted about what happened to my boyhood girl friends family when the father violated Federal banking laws. That destroyed their family. He was more deserving of consideration since he was a combat WWII veteran who literally shed his blood for the USA than this womans parents. Also deportation is NOT a punishment, it is simply restoring the status quo. Going to prison is punishment.

  7. Wow. I actually find myself in agreement with davidm2575 on the resolution. It is absurd. Nothing is accomplished by attempting to relabel that which is statutorily unlawful. This is merely an example of student idealism, which I mostly admire, run amok.

  8. people were here 10,000 years ago, neighbors move in 500 years ago and draw a line across a desert. everybody on the north side of the line gets a casino, everybody on the south side of the line gets to work in the kitchen.

  9. It would be denigrating to call them WOPS and of course the Sicilians would be offended that we call someone else WOP so perhaps use the whole phrase and not the acronym and most of us will know that if we say some person is With Out Papers that we will be calling them a WOP. As an Italian greyhound I can relate to it. In the dogpac the only time we need papers is when we go to the vet.

  10. I do not understand why so many people have such a bad attitude towards immigrants or illegals. As for me, I do not care who wants to study and where. Trust people who got the US education are very welcomed in many places. So why not let international students come here and study. Do not forget one important fact: they mostly help to improve our economy as they pay for education without applying for loans here, they pay for different services, etc. Also teachers underline one thing: such students study better than Americans. They actually value education. Here is an example: for instance, they need to write a term paper. While they will actually write it, Americans will use MyEssayService or any other to do it for them….so I guess I am more on illegals side

    • Alicia all immigrants are NOT equal. The ones you and I like are those who come here LEGALLY, obey our laws, contribute legally to our country, and as you observed pay premium prices for their education. The illegals pay cut rates for the education WE are paying for OUR children, have NO legal right to be here, use our free health care system, education, and pay little or nothing for those things. Then when the DREAM Act is proposed, they do not have the decency to force them to register for the draft as ALL males MUST do at the age of 18. I guess that they do not want to make any sacrifice for the US. I would like to see that if that act is passed that they have ICE agents standing by to arrest and deport the illegal student for committing a FELONY if they do not have proof of registration.

      Then we have the stupidity of saying that a LEGAL Indian immigrant with a PhD in Electrical Engineering is the SAME as an uneducated illegal who speaks not a word of English. Do you seriously think that they are the same in what they can contribute to the US? You also forget that the US allows over one million legal immigrants/yr to come here legally.

      • And is an uneducated “legal” the same as an “illegal” Ph.D in electrical engineering?
        If you use your reasoning the “illegal” is worth much more to our society then the American citizen, whether a natural born or naturalized citizen.

        • As a matter of fact, the legal uneducated person is less of a drain that an illegal educated one. The educated one will be used to lower the salaries of higher paid workers and thus do more damage than an illegal one who only screws the less educated and minority workers who have less wages.

      • Randy wrote: “The illegals pay cut rates for the education WE are paying for OUR children, have NO legal right to be here, use our free health care system, education, and pay little or nothing for those things. Then when the DREAM Act is proposed, they do not have the decency to force them to register for the draft as ALL males MUST do at the age of 18.”

        One easy way to fix this is to make EVERYONE who lives here legal. Why is that so hard? Secure borders are fine, but if someone gets here and lives here, he or she should be able to walk into any immigration office and work out a path to either stay here or return to their country of origin, depending upon the specifics of the case. If a person wants to live here legally, we should provide that path for them, no matter how they got here. We need to get rid of this stupid inhumane concept that if someone is here without following some stupid rules we made for how people should be allowed to come here that somehow that makes them “illegal.” The problem is the bad law, not the people. The immigration law is BAD! The immigration law is WRONG. The immigration law is IMMORAL. We need to change the law in order to fix the problem. We need to welcome people here who desire to live the American dream. We should not make their American dream illegal.

        The grounds for not providing a path for them to stay here should be if they were committing crimes here or abusing our welfare system. Then we should give them transportation back to their country and not string them along for years and years. If they do not commit crimes and want to work, allow them to work and build a life here. This should happen IMMEDIATELY as soon as they walk into an immigration office. This is the humane and loving approach. It would be no different than a stranger walking up to your door and asking for help. Do you slam the door in his face and automatically call him a criminal, an illegal, just because he is at your doorstep uninvited? No! You invite him in, get to know him, find out how you can help him out. This is the definition of love. This is being a good neighbor. Something is wrong when the law does not support this kind of response to people wanting to build a life here as our neighbor.

        • I have a hard time believing that david is serious. I hope that this is a satire, and I will respond in kind. In that case, we should make speeding legal since traffic laws are unfair and unjust. If a person is driving without a license or insurance, as long as they are doing so, they should not be punished since they need a car to live in most of the USA. Germany has done just fine without speed limits, and which is why I love driving in Germany. I also love driving in Paris since it is like playing bumper cars with real cars. It is the loving thing to do to let people have their freedom.

          Why should we have limits on our borders at al? If people want to bring in things, let them. If they can sell the stuff they bring or want to use the things, let them. The government has no business telling people what they can bring in or use. If you want secure borders, what is the criterion since that means you have to enforce laws that get broken. If you do not enforce laws, then they are worse than useless.

          It is inhumane to insist that people follow laws that they do not like and is an abridgement of their Constitutional rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

          • Randyjet wrote: “I have a hard time believing that david is serious.”

            I am completely serious. Our immigration laws are messed up. It is very difficult for people to immigrate here.

            Your analogy about not having speeding laws would only apply if I was saying that there should not be any border control. I’m not saying that. I am saying that the laws need to deal with reality in a way that does not harm people. Right now the immigration laws harm people. If a person is here, the laws need to give him a path toward a legal solution that works. In many cases that will be to allow him to stay here. In other cases it may involve deportation. A person should not be made illegal simply because he happens to be in the country without proper permission. That would be like someone being arrested for knocking on your door when you didn’t invite him to do that. Do you really think it would be justice for you to call the police and have them arrest your neighbor who knocked on your door just because you did not give him permission to come on your property and do that?

            • david your analogy is so far off it is funny. If you have a restraining order against that person, posted signs, etc, and they still knock on your door, we DO lock them up. We have made it perfectly clear that trespassing and breaking and entering is illegal, and such persons need to be jailed. That they clean my house, does NOT mean they have earned the right to be in it when I told them no.

              To have any border controls at all means you have to enforce the law for all, not just the ones who have enough money or usefulness to bribe you.

              • Randyjet – you don’t seem to understand that I find fault with the immigration laws that are currently in place. They need to be changed. Obviously if the current laws were good and working properly, they should be obeyed and enforced. My point is that these laws are bad, which is why they are not followed, and why they are not enforced. It is time to wake up and realize that these laws were created out of selfishness and are bad laws, or according to natural law theory, not laws at all to be obeyed.

                • david your post shows a shallow understanding of law and society and we disagree on so many topics on this that I have neither the time nor inclination to refute all of your errors. Gene H has done a good start on this. We have over probably 12 million people driving without licenses, so obviously we do not need laws like this since it is flouted so widely.

  11. David sez: “….I find fault with the immigration laws that are currently in place. They need to be changed. Obviously if the current laws were good and working properly, they should be obeyed and enforced. My point is that these laws are bad, which is why they are not followed, and why they are not enforced. It is time to wake up and realize that these laws were created out of selfishness and are bad laws….”
    Oh my gosh! I am in agreement with David about something. Immigration laws don’t reflect reality on the ground any more than the “war on drugs.”

    My granddaughter is engaged to a Canadian citizen. Just going to visit him is a big hassle for her, as it is for him. When he has come down to see her the past couple of times, he thought he was going to be turned back at the border. She says that when she has gone to Canada, she is also hassled at the border, and agents make no attempt to be civil. From what both these young people tell me, if the agents on either side of the border talked to others like that in any other setting, they would be spitting out their teeth. They (meaning me) are going to have to hire an immigration lawyer, possibly one in Canada too, before they can get married. It shouldn’t be that way.

    Families are being split up, and kids who are US citizens (who want to stay with their parents) are faced with being deported to places they have only heard about, do not speak the language, and know nothing of the culture. Two small business owners on a business trip in their small plane, who stop for fuel and a rest stop in Iowa, are detained and hassled by Border Patrol agents. Last time I looked at a map, Iowa City was a very long way from any international border. Immigration is broken. That inscription on the Statue of Liberty is now a cruel joke.

    • OS Sorry to hear that your granddaughter is having a hard time, but I ran into the same problem in Canada once when I landed there when they were going to deny me entrance for a 35 year old DUI conviction in Texas. The officer relented and figured that I was probably rehabilitated and not a threat even though under Canadian law, I was a convicted felon.

      You are wrong on a host of points. I was unaware that states required proof of citizenship to get married. They are perfectly free to be married as far as I know. Now as far as one or the other being admitted to either country, that is another matter, but the fact is Canadian citizens do not need a visa to enter the US, nor the other way around. They are perfectly free to come and go legally, unless one has a conviction on their record. You did not mention any of that so I assume that they have a clean record. As an airline captain, I was refused admission to the US by one US Customs guy in YYZ when I went through US customs there. We had left our bags at the gate while we went back outside when our flight was late arriving. The fool told me that I could not leave my bags in the gate area, and that I had violated the law and I could not be admitted back into the gate area as a result. I simply looked at my other crew members who used a different line, so I started to go to that one, and the fool saw that and relented. There are idiots in all manner of jobs.

      As for your contention that families are broken up by the US when they deport illegals who have US citizens kids, it is simply wrong. It is the family that decides where the kids will live, NOT the US government. They are perfectly free to go to their parents native country. I know of no kids who do not know their parents native language, if that is so widespread, then we most certainly can get rid of bilingual education. In fact, some friends of mine raised their US born daughter to speak German, even though both of them spoke fluent English. Sam was a US citizen married to an Austrian woman, he spoke five languages, she spoke three. In fact, most kids in Laredo who are US born and whose parents are US citizens speak more Spanish than English. Then I get a laugh out of the DREAM Act supporters who say that 16 year olds have NO memory or ties to their native countries since that is the cut-off age for entering the US. This law provides for mass fraud as did the last amnesty.

      The poem on the Statue of Liberty was written when our population was under 150 million. We are over DOUBLE that now. It is like an overloaded plane or lifeboat. We cannot let all on board who wish to be, otherwise we defeat the whole enterprise.

  12. Immigration laws in this country are indeed broken, however, immigration laws were not created out of selfishness nor does natural law say that not all laws are to be obeyed. Natural law says that laws that go against nature are likely to be unenforceable.

  13. this is just stupid its not like they are hurting you or anything they came here to follow a dream they have in mind and if that bothers you you can go to h*** for all i CARE WIT YOU AND YOUR LITLLE IGNORANT SELF

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