“Illegal alien” is an unacceptable term. End stop.
This isn’t about being politically correct. This is about the fact that words matter. They do intellectual work – always have. And when we live in systems that dehumanize certain groups, we use words that unconsciously help us justify that oppression by dehumanizing the people they describe.
Actions can be illegal – for example, the civil (not criminal) act of entering this country without proper documentation. But when we use “illegal” as a noun, we’re implying that a human being is perpetually illegal. They’re not. No human being is illegal. Ningún ser humano es ilegal.
I join the community in calling on the Speaker, and every elected official in Rhode Island, to send a clear message that our state will represent every member of our Rhode Island community by removing this dehumanizing term from our lexicon, and by standing up for the hard-working immigrant families who contribute so much – in culture, in economic activity, in taxes, and more – to our beautiful state.