Sunday, February 20, 2011

Illegal Vs. Undocumented

Illegal and undocumented are two words that have two different meanings. Yet both of them are used synonymously when describing individuals who have entered our country without becoming naturalized citizens. Although the term “illegal” has upset many across the nation, it is actually an acceptable term. The debate on these two words began when various people started referring to illegal aliens as undocumented immigrants. “Illegal” has been seen as a word that dehumanizes a person.

The real question is why are so many people offended by the term “illegal”? Why does it come off as an insult? Let's just face the facts. If you enter our country without becoming a naturalized citizen, then you have broken U.S. Law. The term “alien” however may be a little extreme and out of date. When referring to aliens, the first thought that comes to mind is an extra-terrestrial form of life living in outer space. Obviously, people who cross the border aren't aliens, at least I hope not. But Illegal immigrants is a better term than illegal alien.

Why should we as a society worry about offending those who enter our country illegally? They are immigrants and they are here illegally. If illegal immigrants then maybe they should go through the naturalization process like other legal immigrants. Why come here illegally when you face the chance of deportation? Plus, when you're illegal, you cannot receive the same benefits as citizens. For instance, getting a well-paying job. Many illegal immigrants have to work under the table for wages much lower than the minimum wage. Conditions are better for those who are citizens.

If you are referred to as an illegal immigrant and you are offended, then maybe this should encourage you to become a U.S. Citizen. However, there is a slight problem with that, our naturalization process moves very slowly. Our government should work at speeding up the process. However for the time being, it is better to be safe than sorry. Go through the naturalization process, it will work out for you in the long run.

For those of you who are against the term “illegal” then how is undocumented a more accurate term? To be honest, they are both accurate descriptions. Illegal refers to the fact that these people broke the law. Undocumented refers to the fact that they are not documented citizens. Undocumented only removes the negative connotation from the term illegal immigrant. Of course people may say that illegal should only be referred to people who commit serious crimes such as murder, theft, etc. However is trespassing not a serious crime? Regardless if it is a “serious” crime or not, it is still a crime which makes them undocumented immigrants “illegal”.

This is a debate that should cease to exist. Instead of arguing about whether or not illegal is acceptable or not, maybe we should be working on a way to speed up the naturalization process. If foreigners were able to become citizens in a much smoother process, then we would not have this debate. Whether you like it or not, if you came here illegally then we have a right to refer to you as an illegal immigrant.

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