Letter No. 30: Immigration reform now! (36101)

Dear Mr. President,

The Associated Press is a trusted news leader, so when the AP decides it will no longer use the phrase “illegal immigrants,” my ears perked up, because I figured they definitely have some knowledge I don’t. Could it be they have inside information that we may soon no longer have “illegal immigrants” in the United States?

The timing of the decision by the AP definitely leads to speculation as to why, after all these years? The rationale given by the AP is that “illegal” can refer to an action, but not a person.

But I’m not buying it! Especially because on April 2 the New York Times said a bipartisan Senate group is preparing to roll out broad immigration legislation during the week of April 8 and a bipartisan group of eight House members is also readying its own bill. April could definitely be the spring of immigration reform in the U.S., and as such, the AP is jumping ahead and spring cleaning already.

Interesting too is the fact that the AP has not disclosed what term it will replace the phrase with. Seems to me they are simply waiting for the day when they can simply write “immigrants” and nothing else in stories. Other media houses should take a cue from the AP, especially those who persist in referring to the undocumented immigrants as “illegal aliens.”

Now, may I suggest, Mr. President, that you also get into spring cleaning mode by urging Department of Homeland executives to shun the term “illegal aliens” and “aliens” altogether? Last time I looked up the definition of an “alien,” it was one set aside for “life which does not originate from the Earth” or a “specie not native to its environment.”

I don’t think either definition fits that of a hard-working foreigner who moves to another country to seek a better life for himself and possibly his family. And if the AP’s argument is correct and illegal can only refer to an action, then the two words together make no sense at all.

As lawmakers get to that long overdue bill and we all hold our collective breaths for passage through the Congress, I hope you will also use this time and do what you can from the sidelines: Follow the AP’s move and also banish the term “illegal alien” from the Department of Homeland Security and its respective immigration agencies.


Felicia Persaud

\The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.