Spread the word: “illegal” immigrants are people too

Lauren Enos – Assistant opinions editor

Migrants, or any other people who enter the United States illegally, are often referred to as illegal aliens. Unfortunately, that’s the term that is approved and used by our court of law. I’m doubtful that I could think of a more destructive term. All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity, and using the term “illegal alien” doesn’t support that idea. Language is a powerful tool; the word “alien” is associated with strange-looking beings, a sense of invasion and otherness. The use of the term illegal alien promotes an “us” vs. “them” mentality.

During this holiday season of giving and cheer, we should be giving some thought to the thousands of immigrants searching for cheer and safety here in America. The holidays are a time where people are generally more kind, giving, and happy. And with the holidays approaching, perhaps this is the time to appeal to peoples’ hearts.

The term illegal alien is dehumanizing, which makes it easier to think of and treat these immigrants as sub-human. No human being deserves to be denied asylum. No person should be treated as if they are less important than a person of another nationality. I don’t think people generally disagree with these statements, but it’s a different story when “illegal” or undocumented immigrants are the subject.

We need to do a lot of work on humanizing these immigrants. They are sacrificing everything they have for safety, family and better opportunities. Regardless of what the administration wants you to believe, the vast majority aren’t criminals nor rapists. Read their stories, listen to what they have to say, see their humanity. Repeat their stories and help them be heard. These are just humans who are trying to live the best, safest lives they can. The more we talk about them as human beings, the more we can get others to think about them as such.