In Tuesday’s Denver Post, columnist Cindy Rodriquez wrote that, basically, calling illegal immigrants “illegals” is incorrect and misleading and that they should, more accurately, be called “necessary workers” or “essential workers.”
Feeling that her logic was seriously flawed, I sent her the following email:
You were quite correct in your assertions that our choice of language can determine, or at least influence, the reaction of our audience.
However, I must take exception to your primary example, “illegal immigrants” or simply “illegals.” An undocumented immigrant, by virtue of not having obtained the proper papers for being here, is in violation of U.S. law and hence is an illegal immigrant, or an illegal. Most people recognize the noun “illegal” to mean an undocumented or illegal immigrant, and use it specifically to distinguish those immigrants from the ones who are here legally and/or who have become U.S. citizens.
An illegal immigrant may or may not also be a “necessary worker” or an “essential worker.” The work status of an undocumented immigrant is an issue entirely aside from his or her undocumented illegal status.
Just thought I’d offer my 2 cents’ worth.