On Doublespeak In the Immigration Debate

It is important to remember it is possible to make the distinction between legal immigrants and illegal aliens without demonizing illegal aliens. We should not fear making that distinction, because there is a gradation in the severity of crime. The difference between murder and theft, for example.

Illegal aliens are law-breakers by definition, but that does not make them bad people per se. Of course, they are not one and all violent criminals, but correctly identifying them as “illegal aliens” does not in itself imply as much.

The political question of whether they are deported or punished for unlawful presence in the United States is the reality of living in a nation of laws. Though some people’s stomachs turn at the thought of enforcing immigration law, it is important to remember that the effective application of the law is a critical distinction between the U.S. and Mexico. After all, Mexico is the most dangerous conflict zone in the world outside of Syria, with some Mexican states more deadly than Afghanistan. In the news recently, the morbid discovery of eight bodies in Cancun prompted yet another travel advisory.

One can say what one wants of the American system, and there are plenty of valid criticisms to be made, but it is not as inveterately corrupt and ineffective as Mexico’s.

Perhaps a lesson can be gleaned from the unimpeachable patriotism of Marine Corps veteran Cuauhtemoc “Temo” Juarez.

Juarez, a naturalized citizen from Mexico who deployed three times overseas with one two-year combat deployment to Iraq, has faced the self-deportation of his wife, herself an illegal alien. Out of options and time, Juarez’s wife chose to leave of her own volition, rather than face deportation after it was revealed that she has resided in the U.S. unlawfully for years.

Through the pain, anger, and understandably profound frustration, Juarez has remained defiantly patriotic.

“I knew there was a small possibility it could happen, but I thought there was a bigger chance she could fix her situation . . . I still love this country,” Juarez said, adding that he understands his wife “violated our law.” It is my sincere hope that the Juarez family is rewarded for this unflappable patriotism in the face of adversity, both overseas and at home.

More to the point here, doublespeak in the immigration debate has the effect of failing to distinguish between the murderers of women unlawfully residing in the United States and a patriotic immigrant like Juarez. Consequently, this has an ironically generalizing force, insofar as all are referred to as simply “immigrants.” Moreover, this policing of speech in an effort to shield the sensitivities of some is patently condescending. It assumes that all illegal aliens are nonwhite, and as minorities, should be defended at all costs. Is this not stereotyping?

The impulse to impose politically correct parameters of speech in the immigration debate, a sort of “bubble wrapping” of the discussion, has already done more harm than good, but insisting that those codes be upheld in the face of violent crime is indefensible.

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Photo Credit: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

About Pedro Gonzalez

Pedro Gonzalez is assistant editor of American Greatness and a Mount Vernon Fellow of the Center for American Greatness.

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