Immigrants who enter the United States without legal documents are referred as “illegal aliens”. Activist and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas has talked to The Times and The Associated Press about this controversial term. “Alien” by itself means non-human and immigration activists argue that this term must not be used to refer to a human being.
Just because a person crosses the border without legal papers, he must not be considered illegal as he does not commit a criminal offense by crossing the border illegally. Traveling across the border illicitly is a civil offense. The term “illegal” that is used to refer to undocumented immigrants is dehumanizing. Though it is well known that entering the country illegally is a civil offense, undocumented immigrants are still called “illegal immigrants”. Many American states and non-profit organizations are trying to get rid of the term but still this term is prevalent.
If a person below age 14 is caught driving, he is not called an illegal driver and similar to that an individual who enters the country illegally may not be referred as “illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant”, as he does not commit any criminal offense.
Though they are not citizens of America, for many undocumented immigrants, United States is their home. They had entered the country seeking better lives. Vargas had entered America as an undocumented immigrant and now he is an immigration activist. A non-profit founded by Vargas will work on this issue. His main aim is to get rid of the term “illegal”. He says that the term “undocumented” is far better than the term “illegal” and more neutral.
Vargas has earlier written about the difficulties that he had faced because of his immigration status. He says that many readers are not comfortable with the term “illegal”. He hopes that other editors will put an end to the term “illegal”, if The Times and The Associated Press start to use the term “undocumented” instead of “illegal”