Charles Garcia’s piece for CNN “Why Illegal Immigrant is a Slur” makes a strong argument that this is a loaded term and should be avoided. This is not a new argument and I do not intend to rehash the all the arguments on both sides. I will point out that what I see as one original point and that is Garcia’s invocation of language from the recently decided Supreme Court case, Arizona v. United States.
In the majority decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy writes, “As a general rule, it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States.”
This quotation alone gives clear support to those like me who oppose the use of “illegal immigrant.” If it is not a crime for an individual stay in the country when his or her status is such that he or she could be deported, how is he or she “illegal”? As Justice Kennedy points out immigration violations are civil not criminal offenses. Therefore, there are much more accurate terms to use (like Kennedy’s “removable alien”) that do not presuppose criminality the way “illegal alien” does.
It is also worth noting that in this entire decision, except when quoting other sources, the justices do not use the term “illegal alien.” The Supreme Court is obviously fallible (see Plessy v. Ferguson for example), but I am happy to be able to use the weight of this august institution in making this linguistic point.
What's wrong with this picture?
The image says it all. Sleeping Beauty sells vanilla candy. Tiana sells watermelon. What more can I say? I have no idea what the candy company was thinking, and this could be an innocent flavor assignment. Still, did not anyone in the company have a second thought? I also wonder what Mulan, Pocahontas, and Jasmine are selling.
This incident reminds me of a passage from Colson Whitehead’s novel Sag Harbor where he does a rift on watermelon as he talks about growing up:
“You didn’t, for example, walk down Main Street with a watermelon under your arm. Even if you had a pretty good reason. Like, you were going to a potluck and each person had to bring an item and your item just happened to be a watermelon, luck of the draw, and you wrote this on a sign so everyone would understand the context, and as you walked down Main Street you held the sign in one hand and the explained watermelon in the other, all casual, perhaps nodding between the watermelon and the sign for extra emphasis if you made eye contact. This would not happen. We were on display.”
Piotr Redlinski for "The New York Times"
In response to the excellent article by Paul Theroux “The Country Over the Fence” on his experience crossing through the border wall from Nogales, Arizona to Nogales, Mexico, I offer this poem by Robert Frost.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”