Congressmen Lamar Smith and Ted Poe Should Know No Human Beings Are “Illegal”

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Over the last few years, groups across the country have called for an end to describing the more than 12 million undocumented immigrants who live in America as “illegal.” The movement is headlined by the efforts of Jose Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who announced in 2011 that he is an undocumented immigrant. Since that time, activists from across the country have pressured elected officials and news organizations to stop using the term “illegal” when describing America's millions of immigrant aspiring citizens.

The Houston Chronicle described the issue:

The term has gotten a lot of attention this past week, following the Associated Press' decision to no longer use of the word “illegal” as an adjective to describe a person.

Republicans tend to use the word “illegal immigrant”  and “alien” far more often than Democrats, who instead use the word “undocumented,” the survey found.

Five of the top ten users of the past five years are still in Congress. The others have retired, resigned or died.

Nine of the top ten users were Republicans. The other was the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, a leading advocate of immigration reform, who placed sixth on the list.

Just recently, the Associated Press has announced that they will stop using the term “illegal immigrant” or the term “illegal” when describing a person. They correctly reasoned that a behavior is illegal, but a person is not. The New York Times is also reconsidering using the term.

An analysis by the Sunlight Foundation has found that Congressmen Lamar Smith and Ted Poe used the term “illegal immigrant” most frequently in Congress over the last five years. We need to tell them that a behavior is illegal, but a person is not.

Words matter. People matter. When Congressman Smith and Poe dehumanize any person or group for any reason, it is important we, as a society tell them enough is enough.  There is an opportunity to make your voice heard on this issue and tell Smith and Poe the following:

Stop using the term “illegal immigrant.” An analysis by the Sunlight Foundation has found that you are the two most frequent users of this offensive term in Congress over the last five years. Please follow the example of the Associated Press and stop using this insulting term-no human beings are “illegal.” A behavior is illegal, but a person is not.

A Smith staffer has said that the San Antonio Republican will continue to use the phrase and encouraged the media to keep quoting people when they make the inappropriate statement. It is time to make your voice heard to tell Congressman Smith and Poe you agree with the Associated Press and it is time to stop using the phrase, “Illegal Immigrant”.

To add your name to Progress Texas' petition to get them to stop using this archaic and offensive term click here.

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