In a recent article written by Teen Vogue, HSPRD’s Marta Delgado shared her thoughts on the use of the term “illegals.” We hear this term being used regularly these days due to President Trump’s controversial statements on immigration in the United States. Ms. Delgado says that not only is the term dehumanizing but it is also technically inaccurate. “People are not ‘illegal.’ Only actions can be illegal,” Ms. Delgado tells Teen Vogue. She points out that by referring to these individuals as “illegals” it incorrectly describes their mere existence as illegal. Having an unlawful presence in the United States is not, in itself, a crime. This term has racist connotations because as Ms. Delgado says, “’Illegals’ is not used to describe all people who commit some unlawful act. It is a specific slur used to describe foreigners or people who are different than ‘us’ or don’t ‘belong’ here.” She believes that it may take some time before we see the term “illegals” totally fade from conversation but it will happen. During President Eisenhower’s administration, terms such as “wetback” were common epithets but have faded and are now recognizably derogatory. Ms. Delgado encourages people to be mindful of those who want to spread fear because they will continue to use language to do so.
Learn more about Marta Delgado and her practice at HSPRD.