Letter to the Editor: Response to editorial “It’s time to unpack the phrase ‘Illegal Alien’” by Mr. Amar Batra

Dear Editor,

While I do not wish to discuss politics, I will respectfully disagree with your editorial, Mr. Batra. Illegal Alien or Unlawful Alien, along with Legal Alien and simply Alien are actual legal terms, used in the U.S. Code, (the official compilation of Federal law). The usage of these terms predates the present controversy with immigration and those before. The use of Alien in law also predates its connection to extraterrestrial life, as well as most of our countries history, going back to at least the 1798 Alien and Sedition Act.

While I offer no comment on your political stance, Mr. Batra, I think your editorial played loose with the facts. I disagree with your stance on the use of the word. Ignorance and misunderstanding of a word, even by many, is not an excuse to change the word. It seems, Mr. Batra, that you take a humanitarian stance on immigration. I do not doubt that you are sincere in your beliefs, but I think there are more productive approaches. Attacking a word is no way to get at idea. A rose by any other name smells just as sweet, and replacing the term “Negro” with “Black” or “African American” did not cure racism. Changing words changes the conversation, it does not resolve it. By calling for a more “politically correct” term over Alien and its derivatives, instead of addressing the issue directly, you frustrate moderates and give ammunition to your opponents. 

 - Brendan Sayers