There’s been a lot of discussion about using the term “illegal alien” vs “undocumented immigrant”. Proponents of the term “illegal alien” argue that this is a clear and precise term that explains that someone does not have legal status in the United States. Those who oppose the term argue that such term denigrates immigrants by branding humans—as opposed to actions—as illegal. Words matter, they argue, and the term only serves to dehumanize and demonize the migrant community.
Title 8 of the United States Code Section 1325 makes it a crime to unlawfully enter the United States. It applies to people who do not enter with proper inspection at a port of entry, such as those who enter between ports of entry, avoid examination or inspection, or who make false statements while entering or attempting to enter.
Therefore the term “illegal alien” is typically used in the following circumstances:
- To describe a person who has entered the United States without presenting themselves at a point of entry.
- It can also be a person who has entered the United States with a valid visa but has overstayed that visa. This means the person stayed in the United States after their stay expired and are currently in the United States without any legal status.
In a time of political correctness people are careful to use words that do not hurt or offend others. In theory, this sounds great. The fact of the matter is that there are approximately 14.3 million people in the United States who have no legal status. Whether we use the term “illegal alien” or “undocumented immigrant”, the truth is that the people are still without any type of legal status. Being politically correct may be important, but right now it is more important to find a bipartisan solution to the immigration crisis.