‘Illegal immigrant’ phrase called neither ‘accurate nor neutral’ as activists turn up volume on call for candidates and media to stop using phrase
On a scorching day in May 2010, thousands of Latinos and immigration activists marched through the streets of downtown Phoenix in a mighty protest against SB1070, the so-called “show me your papers” law. Among the sea of protest signs was one with a more universal message: “No human being is illegal.”
In the years since, a linguistic dispute has welled up on the periphery of the highly charged debate over immigration reform – how to refer to the nearly 11 million people living in the US without legal residency?
“We don’t call pedestrians who cross in the middle of the road illegal pedestrians,” said Otto Santa Ana, a linguist and professor in UCLA’s Department of Chicana/o Studies. “A kid who skips school to go to Disneyland is not an illegal student. And yet that’s a sort of parallel.”
Santa Ana is among many linguists who argue that the phrase “illegal immigrants” is neither “accurate nor neutral”. Other law-breakers are not referred to as illegal, making immigrants an outlier in the naming system, he said.Read the rest of the story HERE.
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