The Disenfranchised Residents Formerly Known as Undocumented: It’s not acceptable to call illegal immigrants “illegals”–but it’s no longer OK to use the clanking, formerly PC euphemism “undocumented immigrant” either, according to a GOP umbrage expert quoted in the Washington Post. Leslie Sanchez, “a Republican strategist who worked on the McCain campaign,” finds a sympathetic ear in the Post‘s Nia-Malika Henderson:
… [B]ecause of the ascension of Latino independents and Republicans, candidates have to be very sensitive as to how they talk about this issues.”
“They can’t use the term illegals,” Sanchez said. “At best it’s undocumented immigrant, at worst it’s illegals and illegal aliens, and both are pejorative and condescending.” [E.A.]
Is it too fusty to ask, if we can’t call illegals “illegals,” and we can’t call illegals “undocumented immigrants,” what words can we use? Is this one of those cases where we just need a new term every decade or so as the old term becomes tarnished by popular opprobrium? Or is the whole idea of distinguishing between people who have complied with immigration laws and people who haven’t complied with immigration laws now a forbidden thought for those who would
pander to a strategically ultrasensitive ethnic group “expand the coalition that supports Republicans” to “[include] Hispanics and Latino Americans”? Maybe “undescribable Americans” would be the best term. Or “superAmericans.” You can’t suck up to this crucial swing group enough!
P.S.: According to Henderson, “conventional wisdom” holds that a GOP candidate needs to get 40% of the Latino vote . John McCain, running as a fervent amnesty supporter, got only 31% of that vote in 2008 even though (as Henderson notes) he came from a state with a “high Latino” population. Why is McCain’s showing evidence that Republicans have to embrace amnesty (or euphemisms about amnesty) to boost their Latino penetration? McCain embraced amnesty. He flopped. Maybe that’s evidence that other issues are far more crucial to Hispanic voters than pollsters for Latino Decisions like to admit.
P.P.S.: Did Henderson even attempt to interview any GOP strategists who aren’t pushing “comprehensive immigration reform” (which includes an amnesty for the ___________)?
P.P.P.S.–Even the conservative WSJ … : It’s not news that the Wall Street Journal editorial board is sympathetic to Gingrich-style amnesty. It’s always sympathetic to any amnesty. Henderson is just pretending to be dumb when she cites the WSJ‘s support as if it somehow shows that there is a fresh opening in the GOP for Gingrich on legalization. (Gingrich might still win the nomination–McCain won, after all–but it won’t be because the GOP primary electorate is more open to legalization than in 2008.)