Is ‘Illegal Immigrant’ a Racial Slur?
Some activist groups say it is.


Ian Tuttle

But DTIW goes farther than merely to dissemble on the question of illegality. The campaign uses inaccurate language of its own. DTIW condemns the “anti-immigration strategy” that, through the mainstream media, has normalized the use of illegal and similar terms. But with the exception of a few fringe groups, most do not oppose immigration as such. They oppose illegal immigration, and many argue for restoring the sorts of restrictions on immigration that existed until the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Above all, they insist on the importance of repealing that act’s family-reunification provision, which has let in hundreds of thousands of low-skilled immigrants. DTIW’s conflation of nativist groups with people who want strong action against illegal immigration and a sensible revision of the terms of legal immigration is, in DTIW’s own words, a practice that “halt[s] and derail[s] reasoned, informed debate.”

However, for all the misleading arguments and examples, Novoa’s final advice is sound: “For the purposes of reporting and for the purposes of the law, what we can ask is for people to be as precise as possible.” In the end, a judgment must be made about the subject of any conversation about immigration, and the goal of that judgment should be to label the persons involved as accurately as possible.

And that responsibility belongs to both sides.

— Ian Tuttle is an editorial intern at National Review.