In the following op-ed that appeared in the April 19, 2013, edition of the La Plaza, FIU Law Professor Ediberto Roman, and second-year law student Bobby Joe Bracy, make the case that the term “illegal” should describe only an action and is inappropriately used in the immigration debate.
Guest Blogger: Professor Ediberto Román and Bobby Joe Bracy “Words Do Matter in the Immigration Debate”
After decades of inaction, this week’s unveiling of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration proposal suggests that Congress may finally be prepared to reform our immigration system. It is of no surprise that this renewed vigor comes on the heels of a presidential election where an overwhelming majority of Hispanic voters rejected the Republican solution was self-deportation. Yet, despite this crucial and potentially transformative moment, Republican leaders, such as Senator John McCain, one of the Group of Eight, has continued to use of ‘illegal immigrant’ when addressing the subjects of reform. He and many other Republicans who oppose immigration reform continue to use the more provocative yet inaccurate term–“illegal alien”(a term still used by the federal immigration agency, ICE). Conservative Senator Jeff Sessions for his part derided the Gang of Eight’s efforts as “making nearly impossible for ICE officials to distinguish between ‘illegal immigrants’ eligible for legal status and those simply asserting they are amnesty eligible.”