In the news:

USAC resolution criticizes use of term ‘illegal’ for undocumented individuals


The undergraduate student government unanimously passed a resolution at its Tuesday meeting that criticized the use of the word “illegal” to describe undocumented individuals.

The “Drop the I-Word” resolution stemmed partially from students’ recent reactions to the appointment of former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano as the next University of California president and also from general concerns about undocumented students feeling unwelcome on UCLA’s campus.

Some students have protested Napolitano’s history with immigration reform, namely, the record number of undocumented individuals who were deported from the U.S. during her leadership of the Department of Homeland Security.

Multiple members of the Undergraduate Students Association Council brought the resolution to the council, including External Vice President Maryssa Hall, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Jessica Trumble and General Representative Lizzy Naameh.

The councilmembers thought to propose the resolution after attending last month’s UC Student Association Congress and hearing the testimonies of undocumented students regarding their worries about Napolitano’s appointment, Hall said.

The resolution specifically emphasizes that campus partners, journalists and media organizations should no longer use the word “illegal” in reference to undocumented individuals.

Community Service Commissioner Omar Arce was one of the more vocal councilmembers supportive of the resolution at the USAC meeting last week. He said he thinks the resolution was necessary, and that any time a student feels unsafe on campus, it is a problem for USAC.

“Calling someone illegal is calling them someone that does not deserve to exist,” Arce said. “Words have power. Words have the opportunity to define people and create context.”

Hall said the resolution is just one step that needs to be taken to promote more inclusive language on campus.

Here are some selections from the resolution:

  • “… we are aware that certain racially derogatory language used in media, political discourse and other institutional settings has historically bolstered the foundation for racially harmful actions, including racial profiling practices, punitive policies targeting socially marginalized groups, hate crimes and violence …”
  • “… the use of the term illegals (the “I-word”) and its derivatives when referring to people dehumanizes and divides communities, contributing to punitive and discriminatory actions aimed primarily at immigrants and communities of color…”
  • “… undocumented students at UCLA and across the UC have expressed their concerns and fear with the recent appointment of Janet Napolitano, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, as the new University of California President …”

Compiled by Amanda Schallert, Bruin senior staff.

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Email Schallert at aschallert+@media.ucla.edu.


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  • Use the right word

    Are they in the country legally? No? Then “illegal” seems to be accurate.

    I hope the police don’t stop arresting “undocumented” murderers.

    • Reality

      The fact that the USAC thinks the legal term “illegal immigrant” is “racial” indicates that the USAC is full of racists — illegal aliens come from all corners of the globe and are of all races, from white Irish illegal aliens, to Asian Chinese illegal aliens, to black Haitian illegal aliens, to Hispanic Mexican illegal aliens. The term “illegal immigrant” or, more accurately, “illegal alien” is race-neutral.

      Activist terminology should not supplant legal terminology.

  • enofrapuni

    They are immigrants. They entered the country illegally. It seems only rational that they be called what they are; illegal immigrants or if you prefer, immigrants illegal.

    Perhaps a car wreck is now just an unscheduled rapid disassembly.

    • Actually

      They’re not even “immigrants.” Both Webster’s Dictionary and the USCIS handbook describe an “immigrant” as someone who is permanently domiciled in a country. An illegal alien is no more an “immigrant” than a tourist stopping by.

      “Alien” is the correct term for people who are not citizens and not legal immigrants on the pathway to citizenship. An alien can be a legal alien (tourist) or an illegal alien (foreign citizens who have overstayed a visa or run across our borders).

    • FedUpWithTheFeds

      They aren’t immigrants. They didn’t legally emigrate from their country of origin. They are aliens who entered this country illegally. Thus, “Illegal Alien”.

  • SRNCOIC

    Wait until you kids are out of the campus cocoon and into the real world of adulthood. It’s much harder to blur the lines of common sense.

    • Jake T

      Not if they get a job with the media.

      • SRNCOIC

        True dat!

      • FedUpWithTheFeds

        Or the government. In either field, the Peter Principle & Political Correctness (instead of hard data, hard science & common sense) run the world.

  • RightWired

    I love how people who don’t pay 40% of their income to support these people think they know best how to handle the situation.

  • John_Westra

    We now have positive confirmation that somewhere, three villages are missing their idiots! External Vice President Maryssa Hall, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Jessica Trumble and General Representative Lizzy Naameh #Fail

    • FedUpWithTheFeds

      Don’t forget Napolitano.

  • Bob

    I can pretty much guarantee that not one of the folks taking up this issue has a real major. College basically has become advanced high school for folks to hang around and do nothing for another 4/5 years while the University collects/steals their tuition.

  • amabokcuf

    The only word in the term “illegal immigrant” that is offensive is
    “immigrant”, because they are not immigrants, they are FORIEGN INVADERS.

  • thinkfirst

    This is Orwellian crap in it’s purest form.

  • Count_Yob

    Illegal immigrant is not totally accurate. I prefer to call them alien invaders.

  • Blu Clw

    Yawn. Who cares what a student government wants! Not everyone is paying a fortune to go to college to share the delusions of a child’s brain.

    • FedUpWithTheFeds

      Unfortunately, these formerly prestigious colleges & universities, turn out our future governmental leaders. Not based upon ability, but based upon ‘name recognition’.

  • Embarassed Bruin

    Crap like this makes me embarassed to be a UCLA alumnus.

  • GulfPundit

    “Calling someone illegal is calling them someone that does not deserve to exist,”

    It is? Only in your fevered imagination. The law calls them illegal aliens, which is more accurate. Using the adjective ‘illegal’ to describe someone who is in a country, well, illegally, is only wrong to mush-brained undergrads and the fools who indoctrinate them.

    Yes, words do have power. That’s why tyrants always try to change their true meaning. And there never seems to be a shortage of credulous sheep ready to believe them.

  • tssr

    Undocumented isn’t right, either. Many have documents, but they’re fraudulent.

    • FedUpWithTheFeds

      Fake social security cards whose numbers rightly belong to American citizens – identity theft, which causes the American citizens thousands of dollars & who knows how much time to correct.
      Fake birth certificates – see above.
      Fake driver’s licenses – see above.

  • ckirmser

    They are absolutely correct.

    “Immigrant” implies legal entry into the nation. Thus, the proper term is “illegal alien.”

  • Ashamed

    Maybe UCLA should also ban the D word and henceforth refer to all Drug Dealers as Undocumented Pharmacists?

    • choppingdownthecherrytree

      Hilarious .. !!

  • PhysicsWon

    What a bunch of morons. All that they have done is to expose themselves to well deserved ridicule. And I invite the “vocal” Omar Arce to sneak into to Mexico without proper papers and see what happens. We are coddle illegal aliens by comparison.

  • choppingdownthecherrytree

    Its 1984 and Libs at this school are implementing “Newspeak”…

    Hey look, not all illegals are from Mexico or South of the border.. the implied racism is all yours.. and this shifting of the language from illegal alien, to undocumented immigrant, to undocumented worker, then “Dreamers”, unregistered immigrant…

    What a load of BS … time to grow up and be adults.. changing the wording is for juveniles and its obvious how the agenda here is to push Amnesty for all those who flooded across the Border since the last Amnesty in the 80′s .. we had one before that in the 60′s…

    America already allows for more Immigration per year than all other nations combined .. the Racism is derived from this La Raza mentality … people who think they are somehow entitled to the United States because of what happened 100 years ago.

    If Latino’s had any real cultural pride they would stay home and try to improve their own home nations … instead of coming here, waving the Mexican Flag, and crying racism when the USA does more for Latino’s than their nation of birth ever did…

  • FeelBadForUCLAGrads

    Let’s play it safe. Forget “illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant.” Stick with “Pablo, Juanita and the ninos.”

    • FedUpWithTheFeds

      Invasor
      Extranjero(a) ilegal

  • bbat

    Illegal is what they are. What does the term illegal immigration have to do with race?! Since when does higher education advocate thought police policies and what right do they have to tell others what to say or think? This is nothing more than idiotic pc posturing.

    • FedUpWithTheFeds

      And brain washing of the young & ignorant. Now as they age, if they choose to remain ignorant, then they’re just stupid.

  • Luke- UCLA Alum

    please explain to me how illegal immigrant picks on any single race? i always thought people of all races can be illegal. Did they stop teaching what illegal means at UCLA?

  • amalgamted

    I prefer ‘unarmed invaders’ or possibly ‘state budget usurpers’. You dreamy eyed kids are giving everyone grief about why college fees have gone through the roof… they have because the state/county/city budgets are supporting 1/3 of Mexico or some other god forsaken lands.

    • FedUpWithTheFeds

      Some of them, especially the coyotes & drug runners, are very armed. Just ask the ranchers who have been shot at, on their own property, by these illegal alien invaders.

  • Reese

    Lets see not here legally hence here illegally. So much for higher education at ULCA. Must be fun going to such an ‘enlightened’ school…..

  • Dencal26

    I suppose they have a far left radical professor advising them because they are too dumb to think for themselves.

  • Dencal26

    These same kids will whine when tuition increases again because ILLEGAL aliens will receive more student aid than American Citizens.

  • Daniel Williams

    “Words have the opportunity to define people and create context.”

    Has anyone else noticed that people don’t bother backing up their assertions these days? For instance, the statement above is rank nonsense if you stop and think about it, but the speaker acts like what she’s saying is self-evident. Words now have “opportunity”?

    Do they still offer formal logic at UCLA? It might make everyone’s lives a bit easier if it was a required class. Certainly would prevent this sort of inanity.

    • FedUpWithTheFeds

      Liberals haven’t learned the definition of anthropomorphism yet or why inanimate objects shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of said object’s owners.

  • roboslater

    Ben Shapiro at Breitbart.com is right:

    How exactly the term “illegal immigrant” is “racially derogatory” is not explained in the resolution, given the fact that a huge minority of illegal immigrants have merely overstayed their visas, and that illegal immigrants come from a huge variety of countries. It is also unclear how “illegal immigrant” being utilized creates the impetus for violence and hate crimes.

  • Austin Rose

    Reading these comments is horrifying. Appreciate the fact that you’ve been privileged enough to never have to worry about your immigration status and have some respect for fellow students and human beings. No human being is illegal.

    • GulfPundit

      ‘No human being is illegal’
      Vapid and dishonest sloganeering is unconvincing. Certainly someone’s immigration status is illegal if they are in a country illegally. No one is saying a person’s very existence is illegal, since in this context, the word modifies a noun. Apparently, logic and common sense isn’t a requirement when your argument rests on emotion.

      I don’t have to worry about my immigration status because I’m a U.S. citizen. That may be an accident of birth, but it’s certainly not a privilege, which implies my status is granted by, and subject to the whims and good graces of others. It is a right. Using your logic, citizenship and legal immigration would eventually be rendered meaningless, as the country vanishes along with its borders.

    • Ashamed

      I was not born in the United States. I came here pursuant to a legally obtained visa. Later I applied for and received a green card, and latter still, was sworn as a naturalized citizen.

      I have the utmost respect for human beings and students who obey the law (immigration and otherwise). Those who choose to break the immigration laws also choose to wear the “illegal alien” label.

      This summer, UCLA denied admission to tens of thousands of student applicants, the vast majority of whom could have attended legally. Have some respect for those denied the opportunity to study at UCLA because their positions were taken by lawbreakers.

    • FedUpWithTheFeds

      Time to grow up Austin. Time to learn how to properly use the English language & how to separate the person from the behavior. No one is saying that the human being (noun) is illegal (adjective). The human being (noun) is an alien (noun) who is committing the behavior of entering our country (verb) illegally (adverb). Therefore, illegal (adjective) alien (noun) is correct.
      Immigrant (noun) is NOT correct because the human being (noun) did NOT legally emigrate from their country of origin to our country through the LEGAL immigration process. The fact that the United States has not always had these or similar immigration laws prior 1875 is irrelevant in 2013.

    • amalgamted

      Kid… you missed the civil rights movement, sorry. This isn’t it and don’t seek to make it some noble fantasy endeavor. We have laws and the intruders broke them. Send them and their anchor babies home and let them apply legally.

  • Shao Skywalker

    Unbelievable. The absurdity of this resolution, and the incredibility that it passed unanimously. I guess no one wanted to be labeled a racist for opposing it.

    We don’t have to wonder about 1984, because the Thought Police is already here! Guess it’s time to scrub English of any words with negative connotation.

  • WHAT?!

    There is one reason why I believe that the term “illegal” should not be used- it is inaccurate. The term “illegal” is designated for breaking criminal law. Immigration is civil law. Breaking immigration law is a violation of civil law, and therefore not illegal. Therefore, illegal is an inaccurate term.

    • UCLAbias

      yet another affirmative-action-blessed Mexican garbling the dictionary definition of “illegal” and brainwashing his/her hopeless kinds…

  • Common sense

    Based on the rationale many of you are depicting, you can refer to anyone who participates or has participated in illegal activity as illegal. Therefore, those of you underage drinking illegally (illegal alcohol consumers) should be referred to as illegals, those of you who have downloaded music illegally (illegal music downloaders) should be referred to as illegals.

    You don’t refer to a person as illegal. You refer to their activities as illegal.

    • UCLAbias

      and if someone does something illegal, you can label them as illegal, a valid adjective..example? illegal alien. what kind of a moron are you? another affirmative-action blessed Mexican?

  • UCLAbias

    there is something fundamentally wrong this this stupid school… the admission office is full of Mexicans and blacks who are bound to prefer much much less qualified Mexican and black applicants because the workers at the admission office and the students that they pick are from similar backgrounds… UCLA will not drop that diversity crap until a new chancellor comes in. we need to scrutinize the admission office… we gotta stop putting community college Mexican and blacks in the admission office and start hiring some professionals with at least bachelor’s degrees with them who can make more impartial admission decisions…. UCLA rank 23 in the US news? bullshit…considering all the Mexicans and blacks that are admitted with such low academic performance.. these Mexican kids are just shameless… they just have to ask for more and more… and they don’t even know what is right or wrong…

  • kparkinsonmorgan

    Editor’s note: Because of the offensive nature of discussion around this article, commenting has been closed.