UCLA student government resolution bans ‘derogatory’ term ‘illegal immigrant’
The student government at UCLA unanimously resolved to call for the eradication of the phrase “illegal immigrant,” reports Campus Reform.
The UCLA Undergraduate Students Association wants the term “illegal immigrant” banned because, its members say, the phrase is a violation of the human rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
Last week’s resolution emphasizes the student council’s desire to prevent journalists, media organizations and various campus partners from identifying illegal aliens as “illegal immigrants,” explains the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s campus rag.
The resolution flatly states that “illegal immigrant” is “racially derogatory language.” Such language “has historically bolstered the foundation for racially harmful actions including racial profiling practices, punitive policies targeting socially marginalized groups, hate crimes and violence,” the resolution proclaims.
“The racially derogatory I-word endangers basic human rights including the presumption of innocence and the right to due process guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution,” the text also declares.
The resolution does not explain how a term describing people from other countries who don’t have the right consular paperwork is racist.
The UCLA student council’s resolution is largely a reaction on behalf of illegal immigrant students who have “expressed their concerns and fear with the recent appointment” of new University of California president Janet Napolitano.
Napolitano was previously the Secretary of Homeland Security. She oversaw the deportation of many illegal immigrants.
The U.S. Constitution does not contain the phrase “illegal immigrant.”
The Constitution does contain a single instance of the word “illegal” in a paragraph of the 14th Amendment concerning the validity of public debts.
The word “immigrant” does not appear anywhere in the founding document.
The Constitution’s First Amendment mentions free speech, saying that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” The 14th Amendment has widely been interpreted by courts to extend this prohibition to state and local government actors as well.
Undergrad council members Omar Arce told the Daily Bruin he believes the language-banning resolution is necessary.
“Calling someone illegal is calling them someone that does not deserve to exist,” Arce asserted. “Words have power. Words have the opportunity to define people and create context.”