In the debate over the future of immigration, one word has been used so much that it has become a shorthand used to describe all undocumented immigrants: “illegal.” Political pundits and journalists alike have relied on this blanket term to describe undocumented immigrants, casting them as criminals, when, in most cases, their only crime has been crossing the border themselves instead of struggling through the long, bureaucratic process to enter “legally.” This creates an atmosphere in which Latinos and people of color are presumed guilty until proven innocent, and that notion has manifested itself in state laws such as SB 1070. Recently, a “Drop the I-Word” campaign has been started to change the discourse and treat undocumented immigrants as human beings. Student groups, immigrant rights organizations and even some media outlets have joined the fight to change our perceptions of what is “American” by examining the words we use to talk about immigration.
The “Drop the I-Word” campaign has even made its way onto local news:
To read more about the campaign, and find out how you can help, visit COLORLINES.