That is why the fight for justice did not end, my colleagues and I decided to inspire a civil and humane debate as the House begins to consider comprehensive immigration reform. To inspire this debate, we are pushing the Humane Immigration Status Resolution (H Res 155). This resolution expresses the need for members of Congress to use terms such as “undocumented” and “undocumented workers” in describing foreign nationals and immigrants, rather than offensive references such as “illegals,” “illegal aliens” and “illegal immigrants.”

We must all come together to address this issue before we get caught in the complexities and debates that will come with immigration reform. This issue branches out far beyond an ethnicity issue like it was in my youth, because it is not about ethnicity or heritage. These negative references affect people across multiple ethnic groups.

Because we agree that this affects everyone, my colleagues (who represent numerous ethnic groups) and I are asking members of Congress to come together and choose the high road during House debates on immigration reform and to bring attention to the accurate type of language that should be used moving forward. Language is the vehicle for affirming or distorting the humanity of marginalized or oppressed groups. Our constituents and scores of others, as well as community groups, have expressed enthusiasm about this resolution’s introduction. This is an issue that lies at the heart of how we view the humanity of people who could very well be our neighbor.