Is this just a case of legal semantics having little effect on actual prosecutions and casework? Of course, but it’s still worth mentioning. The Washington Times reports that the Justice Department has sent an email to its attorneys instructing them to stop using the progressive, inaccurate term “undocumented immigrants” and instead follow the federal legal code and say, illegal alien. You know this is another “own the libs” maneuver, but they’ve got a point.
No more “undocumented” immigrants, just “illegal aliens.”
CNN reported Tuesday evening that the Justice Department has told its attorneys that the term “undocumented” is inaccurate according to U.S. immigration law and that they should start using the legally correct term.
“Illegal alien” is the accurate term used in the U.S. Code, the email reportedly says.
The use of the term “illegal” in the nation’s immigration debate has come under increasing attack from immigrant-rights activists, who can frequently be seen holding signs saying “no person is illegal.”
We can tackle this issue from a question of common sense or immigration law terminology and still arrive at the same answer. As I’ve said repeatedly, if you go into a bank, stick a gun in the teller’s face and tell her to fill the bag with money, you are not making “an undocumented withdrawal.” You’re robbing the bank. Words such as “deposit” and “withdrawal” have very specific meanings in the banking world. So too does the term “alien” in a court of law.
For those who have never checked, you simply need to browse through Title 8, Chapter 12 and read some of the laws such as 8 U.S. Code § 1324 – Bringing in and harboring certain aliens
Any person who— knowing that a person is an alien, brings to or attempts to bring to the United States in any manner whatsoever such person at a place other than a designated port of entry or place other than as designated by the Commissioner, regardless of whether such alien has received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States and regardless of any future official action which may be taken with respect to such alien shall be punished as provided in subparagraph (B).
Alternately, you can also use the term “unauthorized alien” if you wish, though it really doesn’t roll off the tongue. But no matter which “alien” terminology you go with, the phrase undocumented immigrant is meaningless in legal terms and nonsensical in common usage. Anyone coming from another country who was not born in the United States or naturalized can be considered an immigrant if they cross our borders by any means. But “undocumented” implies that they are no different than anyone else entering America but we somehow simply forgot to give them their papers. That’s incorrect.
Under the Obama administration, we saw attempts to begin changing the language of the Justice Department to suit the social justice warriors. But doing so without amending the laws covering the term was a pointless exercise in executive action. And now the pendulum is swinging back in the other direction.