Update on Fuzzy Words in the Immigration Policy Debate

By David North on January 15, 2010

The open-borders supporters continue to push the linguistic boundaries as they seek to impose on all of us new and fuzzier ways of discussing immigration policy, a subject covered in an earlier blog of mine.

There was extensive coverage last month of Justice Sonia Sotomayor's use of the phrase "undocumented immigrant" in one of her first high court opinions. According to the New York Times this was the first time that this term had been used in a Supreme Court document; "illegal immigrant," a slightly more precise term, had been used often before.

A more recent addition to this warped vocabulary showed up earlier this month, this time a contribution by a journalist. In writing about a debate in the New Jersey state legislature, Jonathan Tamari reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"Trenton - A plan that would let children of illegal immigrants pay in-state tuition at New Jersey colleges stalled in the state senate yesterday..."

The perhaps unconscious implication of this term, "children of illegal immigrants," is that the nasty lawmakers are seeking to punish the children for the immigration mistakes of their parents.

The term is also totally inaccurate. First, those who would have to pay out-of-state tuition rates, i.e., get a non-subsidized higher education, are illegal immigrants themselves. They have no legal status in this country whether or not their parents are – or were – illegal aliens.

Second, one could easily be a U.S.-citizen child of an illegal alien and meet the definition of "child of an illegal immigrant" and yet be eligible for in-state tuition at New Jersey colleges.

It is all part of a plan to separate out a special class of illegal aliens, those who came to the country as children, so that they can secure special treatment that may (hopefully) be unavailable to their parents. The size of the population, and the impact on the infrastructure and the environment, does not vary according to the age of migration of that additional person.

More broadly, the fuzzy-words writers are trying to make the crime of illegal immigration as bland as possible while, at the same time, expanding (incorrectly) the population of interest. In my earlier blog I pointed out how a DHS prison was designed, according to the New York Times, to house "noncitizens," a much broader concept than that of the illegal aliens who will actually occupy the cells.

The fuzzy-words users know that if you can frame the debate in your own terminology, you increase your chances of winning the argument.