Is "illegal immigrant" a racial slur?

Charles Garcia — the CEO of Garcia Trujillo, a strategy firm that works with Hispanic-owned companies — does not like the term illegal immigrant. He prefers economic refugee.

He is not alone. Media Matters for America, the liberal website “dedicated to . . . correcting conservative misinformation,” claimed that Fox News used President Obama’s June 15 immigration announcement as an “opportunity to dehumanize undocumented immigrants.” MMFA reported that Fox News used the term illegals 17 times during its June 15 broadcast, illegal aliens twice, and aliens once, not including uses of these terms in on-screen text. These “racial slurs” are further proof, the site contended, of Fox’s “long, documented history of anti-immigrant bias.”…

That is reasonable ground for precision in terminology, but it is no argument against using the term for people who in fact are here illegally. Discussing the problems — economic, social, cultural, moral — of a massive population residing in this country in violation of American law requires a general term, and illegal immigrants is a perfectly reasonable label for that group.

When journalists say that there are 10.8 million “illegal immigrants” inside American borders, Novoa says, they fail to put “people first.” Indeed, the intrinsic dignity of every person should be respected, and it is true that many immigrants have suffered immense hardship in their home nations. But empathy should not be an excuse to overlook the fact that people who broke our laws to come here have no right to remain here.

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