Thursday, February 05, 2004
Welcome to AJC!: "'It's easy to dismiss someone when you use a disparaging term such as 'illegal immigrant' or 'illegal alien,' ' surmised Gonzalez, who oversees the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, an Atlanta-based political action committee.

'I can't speak for other immigrant groups,' he said, 'but on behalf of the Latino community, many people I speak to on a day-to-day basis think it serves to dehumanize the person, makes them less than human. Similar to the way the n-word was used to dehumanize African-Americans.'

It's not a pressing matter for the association, but the issue of what to call the state's 228,000 illegal immigrants has taken up space on the group's 2004 legislative agenda.

Gonzalez, the executive director, plans to lobby state lawmakers to use the term 'undocumented workers' when talking about Mexicans and other foreigners here illegally.

'It's a more accurate reflection of people who provide a great deal for the economy,' he said.

Gonzalez's reference that the term 'illegal immigrant' prompts derision does not carry weight with some others.

'I don't think so at all,' said Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of 'Mexifornia: A State of Becoming.' 'It doesn't describe a person in a negative, pejorative way. It means they don't have U.S. citizenship and that they didn't come to the United States in a lawful manner.'

' 'Illegal' means you came as an immigrant, and broke the law,' said Hanson, who founded the classics studies department at Fresno State University 'It's a precise term, and not just for Mexicans.'

D.A. King, founder of the American Resistance Foundation, a Marietta-based group that seeks tougher enforcement of immigration laws, said the term 'undocumented workers' is 'a politically correct invention to soften the brutal fact that these people are breaking the law.'

'A good comparison would be to say a bank robber simply made an unauthorized withdrawal,' he said."

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