Language Matters When It Comes to Talking About Immigrants

Posted by Arunima Datta | Feb 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

When it comes to immigrants in the United States, language matters. Immigrants have been an essential part of American culture since the beginning. Some lawmakers are trying to change the language of how we refer to immigrants as an attempt to help de-stigmatize those who come here from another country.

Immigrants or Aliens

Several states, the most recent being Colorado, have begun to try and change how we as a population refer to immigrants. By changing the term “illegal alien” to “undocumented immigrant,” lawmakers hope to diffuse the inflammatory rhetoric that has been used by the President and others in his administration.

Studies have shown that anti-immigration rhetoric can severely impact an immigrant's mental and physical health.

Colorado Representative Susan Lontine is one of the sponsors of HB20-1294, which would replace “illegal alien” to “undocumented immigrant” in all public documents and government records. Similar laws have been passed in California and New York. Another supporter of this movement, Congressman Joaquin Castro, tried to pass a similar bill in the U.S. House of Representatives last year but it failed.

The term “illegal alien,” according to Castro and others, is derogatory and leads to negative biases in how we discuss immigration. In a statement released at the time he tried to pass his bill, Castro stated, "The words 'alien' and 'illegal alien' work to demonize and dehumanize the migrant community. They should have no place in our government's description of human beings.”

Guidance issued by the New York City Commission on Human Rights found that the use of the terms "illegal alien" and "illegals," with the intent to demean, humiliate, or offend a person in the workplace amounts to unlawful discrimination. Similar references may also amount to unlawful discrimination in housing.

Immigration and Diversity

Historically, immigration has been both celebrated and contested throughout the years. There have been periods were immigrants were welcomed to this country and other times when immigrants faced a backlash for coming to start a new life.

Immigration has increased racial diversity in the American population. However, a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau finds limiting or even stopping immigration to the United States would not stop the country from becoming even more racially diverse than it is now.

Even if immigration was totally stopped today, the non-Hispanic white population will still fall by 17 percent by 2060. One expert with the Brookings Institution who studied the Census numbers said, “The fastest-growing racial group in this country is people who identify as multiracial.”

AKT Law, LLC Provides Compassionate Representation

At AKT Law, LLC, you will find knowledgeable and compassionate legal representation for all your immigration case needs. If you are facing the threat of deportation over your status, or if you wish to start the naturalization process, Arunima Datta is here to help. Studies have shown that immigrants who hire an immigration attorney can be more likely to see their cases succeed. Contact AKT Law, LLC today to get started.

About the Author

Arunima Datta

Arunima Datta immigrated to the United States and received her degree in Law. She then began working as a paralegal in a variety of fast-paced immigration law firms where she honed her skills in immigration law. She only specializes in immigration law and helped hundreds of clients with green car...


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