Nearly every discussion I have with someone who is opposed to immigration eventually includes my opponent saying something like this: “I am not against immigration. I am against illegal immigration. I have no problem if immigrants come here legally.” I have always had a strong skepticism of this particular position. Most anti-immigrant people are unaware how limited the options for legal immigration are. Most anti-immigrant people are unaware of backlogs, priority dates, age-outs, one year filing deadlines, stop-time rules, and the fact that, for many people, THERE IS NO LINE.
Yesterday, the Associated Press announced that it would stop using the phrase “illegal immigrant” to describe an individual present in the US illegally, or who entered the country without proper authorization. This is a great victory for the long history of organizing against the word “illegal” beginning with the transnational No Human Being Is Illegal campaign and more recently, the Drop the I-word campaign, in addition to the many undocumented immigrants across the country who have insisted on defining ourselves beyond the pejorative brush of “illegal” or “illegal immigrant.” The AP dropping the I-word also has wide ramifications not just for the media, but also for the way we view and treat people.