“Our language is the reflection of ourselves.
A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers”
by Cesar Chavez.
Last week, the California governor, signed a law to remove the word “ALIEN” to refer to immigrants. The word will be replaced with terms like “noncitizen” or “immigrant.”
We must understand the powers of words and the weight they carry when we interact with people. Language comes with history and requires context. Although we may not realize it, our language daily contains implicit and unconscious biases.
It is essential to be aware of these biases as we navigate spaces with people from different walks of life.
As we work hard to impact the world positively, we must keep in mind that the world is full of small exchanges between people with whom we share this world. With this in mind, it is imperative that as we continue to interact with various people in our communities, we must learn and train ourselves to be aware of language biases and their influence on the opinions and perspectives we form regarding others.
At Mira Law Group, we reflect on this change and propose 5 words you should eliminate from your vocabulary to refer to the immigrant community.
- ALIEN: this word dehumanizes undocumented immigrants and can create a perception that immigrants are not like us.
We recommend using “undocumented” “noncitizen” or simply “immigrant”
- ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT: no human being is illegal. The word illegal implies that whatever it is describing is not allowed however using the word illegal before the word immigrant implies that a person is not allowed. This is false.
- CRIMINAL: (when referring to undocumented immigrants). Seeking refuge in a foreign country is a human right. Immigrating to a foreign country does not make someone a criminal.
- “MEXICANS”: Referring to all immigrants or latinx people as “Mexicans”. Although being called Mexican is not offensive it does show bias and prejudice when you refer to a group of people from different countries as Mexican. According to the Pew research center, the top 5 countries of birth for immigrants in the US in 2018 are Mexico (25%) China (6%) India (6%) Philippines (4%), and El Salvador (3%).
- FOB (“Fresh off the boat”): “Fresh off the boat” this term is often used to describe someone who has just arrived to the U.S. not only is this ignorant and offensive it assumes that all immigrants arrived to the US on a boat. Immigrants arrive at the US in various ways and should never be looked down upon for being born in a country that is not the country they currently reside in.
The words we say and the language we use matter. Follow Mira Law Group for more information and resources about immigration. Always remember that every case is different and unique. If you want to address a particular situation and find a legal approach and an immigration relief, do not hesitate to schedule a legal consultation at www.miralawgroup.com or calling (510) 437-9998.