Those of us in the not-too-much-immigration camp should be careful when discussing the issues so as to not carry on the debate using the language of our opponents.
That is self-defeating.
As my former colleague, Jon Feere, wrote some years ago in a thoughtful essay titled "Language in the Immigration Debate", the other side has altered the tone of the discussion grievously by substituting the soft (and inaccurate) term "undocumented alien" or worse, "undocumented immigrant", for the real term, "illegal alien".
As the public conversation turns to reducing legal immigration, we face the same problem. The open-borders people use words with cozy overtones like "family", and positive-sounding ones like "diversity".
I am not suggesting that we use nasty or misleading terms, just that we tell it like it is, without the froth of the other side.
For example, instead of always talking about "family migration", and worse, "family re-unification", let's talk about provisions of the law that permit the legal migration of "relatives and in-laws".
Let's look at the Family Fourth Preference category, for instance, which calls for the admission of siblings of citizens. To the extent that the siblings are married, we are causing the admission of an equal number of in-laws and relatives, as there are two people involved in any given marriage.
Speaking of fourth preference, it also includes the children of the siblings (like Port Authority terrorist Akayed Ullah); this means that we are issuing lifetime visas to a group of nieces and nephews, and we should say so. When I was getting started in the immigration world, and the Immigration Act of 1965, the foundation of our current system, was fresh and new, I recall a senior State Department officer referring to the fourth preference as the "Nieces and Nephews Relief Act".
Meanwhile, there is the "Diversity Visa Lottery", which brings in about 50,000 randomly selected, non-relative aliens each year, including Ullah's uncle or aunt. (Once they are here, of course, they start bringing in more alien relatives, in-laws, etc., in a process appropriately termed "chain migration".)
Diversity has become a positive word, hence we should always call this needless operation the "alien visa lottery" or the "alien lottery". (Much as I am tempted, I will not distort the dialogue by using the term "alien crap-shoot".)
Finally, there is the obscure but slippery DHS-created term "self-petitioning"; it is usually applied to one-time alien spouses of citizens who have broken up with the citizens who brought them here in the first place. In many of these cases, the alien is alleging abuse by the citizen and, as we have reported frequently, the citizen is given no chance to defend against that charge. The charge of abuse routinely leads to a green card.
Why "self-petitioning"? Most relatives who get visas are coming to the United States because other relatives have petitioned for their arrival. No one is willing to petition for these people, so they are "self-petitioning".
Is there another nation in the world that has such a program? I would love to hear from readers on that point.
Back to the verbiage. Instead of calling them "self-petitioning" spouses, let's call this the "alien divorcee" program. This phrase has the added ingredient of being understandable without an elaborate explanation. (There are, of course, some of these alien-citizen marriages that do involve abuse on the part of the American partner.)
So let's use these neutral terms in our discussions of immigration policy: relatives, in-laws, nieces and nephews, step-relatives, winners of the alien lottery, and those in the alien divorcee program.
I am grateful to my colleague, Jessica Vaughan, for stimulating my thinking on the subject.