If an award were given for dumbest comment about America’s illegal immigrant problem, the hands-down winner would be Dayanna Rebolledo. Herself an illegal immigrant, Rebolledo said upon being arrested at a protest in Atlanta in April 2011 that she had risked deportation because she was “tired of seeing undocumented youth being treated like second class citizens.” If Rebolledo were as logical as she is exercised over the nation’s rightful sovereign objection to people sneaking across our borders, she might have realized that you can’t be a second-class citizen without being a citizen—period.
Now Rebolledo’s crown is in jeopardy, thanks to the rise of a new immigrants’ rights advocacy group. It calls itself “Drop the I-Word” and its mission is to persuade Americans not to use the modifier illegal to refer to people on U.S. soil illegally. The organization claims the term is a “racially charged slur used to dehumanize and discriminate against immigrants and people of color regardless of migratory status.” They further claim that the term has “fueled violence” and suggests a host of other more polite (“more accurate” in the parlance of DtI-W) replacement terms. These include “undocumented immigrants,” “unauthorized immigrants,” and “NAFTA refugee.”
It’s hard to know where to begin with statements this loony. People willing to wade through a nasty soup teeming with fecal coliform, E. coli, and other pathogenic goodies are worried about dehumanizing words?
Maybe the DtI-W folks would prefer that the U.S. treat its immigrants to the south the way Mexico treats its own. In Mexico, the Reglamento de la Ley General de Poblacion (General Law on Population) makes it a felony to cross into the country illegally (whoops!—”without documentation”), and the penalties are far graver. Under Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony. The penalty includes up to two years in prison—up to 10 years for repeat offenders.
The main problem with DtI-W’s argument is that they don’t have one. A spokesperson for the group appeared on the O’Reilly Factor last night and had nothing to offer beyond the same vague and baseless feel-good claims enumerated two paragraphs up. She speaks at one point of changing “inhumane laws,” but there is nothing inhumane about calling a crime by its name. Not to mention the fact that linguistically neutering the crime of illegal immigration carries the risk that more people—if such a thing is possible—will begin making the journey through that fetid soup.