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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 24, 2013 at 11:16 AM

‘Illegal’ vs. ‘undocumented’ immigrants

Immigrants are not undocumented

I sympathize with guest columnist Hugo Balta’s objection to the term “illegal immigrant,” but his proposed use of “undocumented immigrant” in news stories is much worse [“These immigrants are not ‘illegal,’” Opinion, May 21]. Let’s not sacrifice linguistic truth for political correctness.

“Undocumented immigrant” implies that someone lost his or her wallet or accidentally left his or her green card in Mexico. Really? How many “undocumented” people legally reside in the United States?

The term “illegal immigrant” may not be ideal, but it’s accurate. The person committed a federal crime (or his or her parents did) by illegally crossing into the United States or by staying here in violation of the law.

I’m open to a different word or phrase, but using the euphemism “undocumented” to hide the truth doesn’t resolve the issue. Hiding the truth is destructive to journalism and to our democracy.

Phillip Johnson, Seattle

Comments | More in Immigration | Topics: illegal, immigration, undocumented

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