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Ask the White Guy: Is the Term ‘Illegal Immigrant’ Offensive?

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Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Comment:
I’ve tended to notice more people using undocumented, without papers, noncitizens, etc. Is it rude, racist to say illegal? I’m also curious to know what exactly, or who exactly these illegal immigrants’ rights people are fighting for. BTW, I think it is very offensive to compare the fight for the rights of illegals to that of Blacks, which were already citizens. The law states that race cannot be used to make stops. The police will not, and cannot stop you on the street. But truly the most ironic thing about this whole issue is with all of this talk about “rights” there has been very little in regards to responsibility.

Response:
Regarding rights, please refer to the Declaration of Independence. It states that rights come from the creator; governments are formed by people to administer the protection of these rights. Further, the rights are “unalienable” and do not belong exclusively to people with certain documents or within a boundary. These rights are for all people. So, therefore, describing a human being as “illegal” should be offensive to any loyal American. It’s more offensive than spitting on someone.

Further, there are an estimated 10 to 16 million undocumented people in this country. Do you think they’re here by mistake? They’re here because they were needed—and they were allowed to work here without restriction. Do you blame the undocumented, or do you blame the people responsible for the administration of our borders?

In 2006, Newt Gingrich wrote an article for National Review that contained this sentence: “In 2004, there were zero (0) federal enforcement fines imposed on American employers who were breaking the law by hiring people illegally.” What Newt doesn’t catch is that this is evidence of a conspiracy. People who are here without documents don’t have Social Security numbers—they use fake cards or other people’s numbers. That means that the federal government collected billions of dollars in Social Security taxes without a corresponding expectation to pay benefits. If the people in the federal government had Italian last names, the FBI would crawl all over this. The people responsible would be prosecuted under RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act and the Ill-Gotten Gains would be confiscated. So I agree with you about not hearing enough about “responsibility,” but it’s not the kind of responsibility you’re thinking of.


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Follow-up Comment:
Just as an aside; what happens when Mexico finds out someone is an “illegal immigrant” [sic] in their country? You stated that “these people are here because they were needed,” etc. and “What Newt didn’t catch is that this is evidence of a conspiracy.” OK, so be it, maybe it was. Uh, let’s try to fix that, maybe by enforcing our own immigration laws? But really, do you think that ALL of the ‘Undocumented Workers” paid into Social Security? What it comes down to is that the U.S. has laws, protocol if you will, for people who want to have the same benefits as a U.S. citizen. These people are breaking our own law, and AZ is trying to enforce it. What’s happened to hospitals along the border, schools also? Whatever happened to border security? Remember that, please. The security of the U.S. is in danger because we really don’t know who’s coming into our country. The AZ law does not call out people from Mexico. If a person deserves to get stopped for a traffic violation, and that person doesn’t have a driver’s license or insurance, or if there is any reasonable suspicion, the officer can inquire about that person’s legal status. The officers are being trained, they have consequences if they get out of line. Just take a breather people. Racial profiling?? Get a grip people. According to the ’09 Census, 30 percent of AZ’s population is Hispanic. These Hispanics are U.S. Citizens or documented, “going through our system.” Do you realize the police force it would take to stop somebody and question them if they were “racial profiling.” They don’t have the time or the resources. Check this out. The only reason we caught the Times Square terrorist Faisal Shahzad is because he became a U.S. Citizen last year. That’s what I call border security. Come to this country the right way, or don’t come at all.

Ask the White Guy Response:
I didn’t say the porous borders we have are a positive thing. I said they constituted a criminal act. I am not a Mexican citizen, so I will not comment on their constitution and how they treat their citizens. The situation speaks for itself; the fences are not for Americans trying desperately to work in Mexico. I completely agree with you about people emigrating here legally. The problem is the current system is dysfunctional—and we have human beings here who need to be treated like human beings (because that’s what our founding documents demand of us). I am not comfortable with police arbitrating constitutional rights.

On your other point: Let’s say half of the undocumented people working in this country pay into Social Security—they ALL pay sales tax. It amounts to billions of dollars collected … quite a racket. ZERO enforcements as little as six years ago. ZERO. Not even ONE.

This law absolutely promotes racial profiling. They’re not concerned about Polish undocumented workers in Arizona. This is all about Mexicans. It’s nonsensical to give rhetorical arguments to tangible situations. This law is all about rabble rousing and race baiting. It’s hateful and anti-American.

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29 Comments

  • Please no one use “documented.” That language is from the left, and reduces all citizens to being “documented.” They are ILLEGAL. And should they become “legal,” they will be Post-Entitlement Immigrants, in my opinion. They will NEVER have come here the way other immigrants did. That may sound hard. But that will be the REALITY. That same thing has happened with Affirmative Action. These are the people who do everything wrong—but do well under our corrupt system. Attitudes will always reflect that. You can’t make REAL LIFE not happen—by just tinkering with words. Only the left things you can.

  • Well, if you don’t mind people coming into this country illegally (trespassing), then I guess you wouldn’t mind if I just barged into your house and made myself at home and helped myself to your stuff. And I’d be offended if you said that I was there illegally!

    I don’t care if the term “illegal immigrant” is offensive. What’s really offensive is people who couldn’t care less about their own country and don’t mind letting people from other countries invade. That’s treason!

  • I personally prefer the term “invader” for our unwanted (permanent) guests. This better captures the fact that these persons have broken in or overstayed their welcome, come with a long list of demands and have no intention of leaving. I believe this also addresses your concern that such lawbreakers not be called “illegals,” which, as you point out, can be offensive. Invaders are not really “undocumented,” since they have documents that they use to steal jobs and other goodies. Do you find this to be a useful substitute for “illegal alien”?

  • Anonymous

    I know a young man, who was pulled over in CA. Had been in CA illegally since he was 4 years old. His citizenship status was found out and he was deported. Was it his fault for being here at four? Once deported he didn’t last a week in unfamiliar territory and was shot and killed during a robbery. Is this justice? Saying your family brought you here as a child, but you’re caught now so go somwhere you have never even been…seems ludricrous and down right wrong…All he knew was his life here…he barely spoke the language there…I do not favor the breaking of laws to enter this country, however some concessions should be made for an individual in this situation. But for now he will be another one of those unrelevant statistics no one else cares about.

  • Anonymous

    Us Americans are hypocrite when it comes to immigration. The immigration system is all about money. Years ago the government noticed that there was millions on undocumented immigrates in the country and there was a process in placed where the immigrant paid money and was able to receive the proper documentation. Some of those immigrants are tax payers and doing jobs that American will not do. The American government also permits people from other countries to do farm work (again work that the typical American does not want to do) they are taxed on their income and they do not get the benefits as American citizen. In reference to the undocumented not wanted. How many times in history have American intruded in other countries. There are two sided too the coin, let flip it and look at both sides.

  • Anonymous

    I’m getting worn out hearing that “immigrants are doing the work that Americans won’t do”. You’re exactly right. In areas where there is an abundance of immigrants, they will do the work cheaply. This pay seems unfair to us but it’s not for them. For them, it’s good money. As a matter of fact, a lot of it gets sent home. America’s economy does not benefit from this money. Maybe Americans are spoiled and we’re used to making more money? How are you going to change this mindset? Go to your boss tomorrow and tell them you want a cut in pay because you think you’re making too much money.
    You say they get taxed on their earnings and don’t benefit from it? Sure, Social Security. Excuse me, if they are migrant workers and not Citizens, exactly how are they to be paid any benefit? But,they’re traveling on a road, aren’t they? Maybe on Sunday they’ll go to the park. Maybe they’ll go to the Library to learn how to become a U.S. Citizen. A good chunk of the money also goes towards defense spending; you know, that thing that keeps them safe while they’re working?
    I’ve traveled the U.S. quite a bit. I’ve seen Americans in Pennsylvania’s, Ohio’s, Florida’s, Texas’, Alabama’s and Louisiana’s pipe yards and steel mills. In Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, I see Americans working in fast food places, cleaning hotels, working in construction, farming; are these the jobs you say Americans won’t do? Who works in the dirty coal mines, the oil fields, on the drilling derricks and the wells offshore? You insult Americans when you say we are unwilling to work hard.

  • Anonymous

    The term “illegal immigrant” is not offensive. It is appropriately descriptive. However, the term has gained a negative connotation; therefore, terms like “unauthorized migrant” and “undocumented worker” are often used. These terms are also appropriately descriptive for they concern a person’s legal status.
    These terms, of course, do not define a person’s worthiness to “life, liberty and security of person” as described by Article three of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. No matter the legal standing of a person, that person is still entitled to his human rights. With that said, a person that is native to another country is also responsible for following the laws of his host country to include the laws defining that person’s authorization to visit, work, and live within the host country.
    Any American of reasonable mind could agree that people are expected to conduct themselves with respect to a nation’s laws. With liberty comes the responsibility to maintain that liberty to include respecting the rule of law as well as recognizing the humanity of an individual despite his legal standing.

  • Anonymous

    It’s my understanding that any Social Security benefits collected from people using false identities or fraudulent Social Security numbers is diverted into an Earnings Suspense File. Does this money ever mingle with “legal” Social Security monies? In other words, who benefits from these funds?

  • Great article !!!!!!
    I’m astonished to hear Americans from a country built by immigrants try to “legelize” immigration. Immigration is geographical, not legal issue. As for a right to become a citizen…..first law allowed only white male to become citizens, later the privilage was extended to other races and finally also women. The only leftover from this law is used today as “they are braeking law” argument. The difference between law and justice is quite obvious. And police is enforcing law, not justice.

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