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Dear Editor:

 Please stop using the "A" word, unless you put it in quotation marks and it is a direct quote from the law or what someone else said.  Many news media representatives and publications throughout the United States have already adopted formal or informal policies along this line.  Just because it is still in the law and just because the government uses it is no excuse to continue to berate people who are not yet citizens by calling them a word that now means a monster from outer space. Unfortunately the US Government is certainly not on the forefront of how to treat people sensitively or as we wish to be treated.  The Golden Rule should apply here.  Would you like to be called a word that means an ugly monster from outer space? 

The case mentioned in today's (Sept. 11, 2000) Immigration Daily is a good example of why the "A" word is considered to be a very pejorative word.  In that case, it was considered to be so pejorative as to affect the fairness of a trial.  My kids can tell you that it means a monster from outer space.  The meaning of the word has changed over the last century.  When the word was first used, it meant a person from another country.  Now it means a monster from outer space-and often an ugly and very sinister one. 

Why should we be concerned about this issue which may seem trivial to some people?  This is not just a matter of good manners or thoughtfulness, it is a matter of whether this publication wants to be on the forefront of sensitivity to our diversity or just another repeater of inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric.  The "A" word is now used in racist ways by anti-immigration persons and groups, including "hate" groups.    It is human nature that our speech affects our way of thinking.  If we condone disrespectful speech, there is a clear implication that we also condone disrespectful treatment of non-citizens.

 Would you use the "N" word for persons of a certain race?  It wasn't so long ago that women rightfully asked our society to make a big change to not use "he" to refer to persons of both sexes.  When women first asked our society and government to change the vocabulary to be more sensitive, they were met with a lot of resistance.  Apathy, laziness or the inconvenience of using a longer word or phrase should not stop us from trying to be more sensitive to other people.  After all, isn't the way we treat other people one of the most important things we can do on Earth?  I believe that all persons should be viewed as children of God no matter what their race, color, creed, national origin or citizenship status.  Therefore, I challenge The Immigration Daily and all persons associated with ILW, Immigration Lawyers on the Web to take the pledge not to consciously use the "A" word unless necessary to make an accurate quotation, and then sparingly. 

As an alternative, I would suggest that we use "non-citizen" which is what the "A" word means or simply any other word such as applicant, immigrant, person, resident, etc.  Thank you very much for your consideration of my request.  You may publish it if you wish.

Larry Johnson

Immigration Attorney


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