Is 'Illegal' the New N-Word?

A poll of Latino voters shows that the term is widely considered offensive.

Posted:
 
illegalummigration31312400jdh
A man protests against illegal immigration. (Minnesota Public Radio)

When a word is combined with negativity, hate and exclusion, it can quickly transform into a slur. The black community knows all too well how that works. Today ColorLines has a report suggesting that "illegal," as it applies to undocumented immigrants, just may be going the way of the n-word among Latinos.

From ColorLines:

According to a Fox News Latino poll conducted by Latin Insights, a New York based independent research company, the majority of Latino “likely voters” believe the term, “illegal immigrants,” is offensive. Here’s the breakdown: 46 percent of those polled think the term is offensive, 12 percent think it is neutral and 35 percent think it is accurate.

Through repeated use by trusted media sources, the term “illegal immigrant” has given many people the impression, that it is accurate or perhaps neutral, because why would media use inaccurate, biased language? It’s been well documented that anti-immigrant advocates that promote nativism helped to make the term more popular in the media and then it was picked up by Republicans and Democrats alike in order to appeal to voters.

How does the i-word in all forms create bias? It’s language that creates anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican, anti-Latino biased thinking regardless of a person’s migratory status, citizenship status or whether they are a 4th generation immigrant. This bias encourages racial profiling, engenders bullying, not-so-subtle anti-Latino messages in political campaigns, and the deportation of US citizens including people from Puerto Rico, deported to Mexico.

Read more at ColorLines.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.  

Comments
The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.