What IS in a word?

This campaign doesn't seem to be particularly helpful.

This campaign doesn’t seem to be particularly helpful.

Illegal: shoplifting, drugs, traffic laws, murder.

Undocumented: lost, bureaucracy, secret, subversive.

Both of these words are laden with connotations that cause intended and unintended emotions in many who participate in the growing debate on immigration on campus. In support of a national campaign, Dartmouth groups such as CoFIRED (Coalition for Immigration Reform, Equality, and DREAMers) have petitioned students, the administration, and even the Library of Congress to replace the term “Illegal Immigrants” with “Undocumented Immigrants.”

This campaign, entitled, “Drop the I­Word,” has garnered mixed reactions from students, including many who are simply apathetic or think the debate itself is not of any consequence when compared with the actual legal issues of immigration reform.

The Review spoke with a veteran Washington DC-staffer who has worked for Hispanic-serving institutions and wishes to remain anonymous.  Our source explained that “the use of the word doesn’t do anything for the issue itself. It still doesn’t resolve what to do with the eleven million people in this country that lack status and the best course of action to ensure our borders are secure. It is a distraction.” They continued, saying that despite this, “there needs to be a certain civility in the debate in which we do not dehumanize, castigate, nor offend all Hispanics, especially in talking about young children who were brought here through no choice of their own.”

The Review contacted major political Hispanic advocacy organizations and was informed that this issue was not, in fact, something that the community’s leaders were focused on: it did not even appear to be on their radar.

No one can deny that America is a nation of immigrants, just as many will agree that every wave of immigration has brought with it controversy and domestic debate. The Review maintains that civil debate is fundamental to resolving such issues, but hopes that terminology will not be a stumbling block that distracts from the real issues.