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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Dear Editor:

I am responding to the letter from Bruce Hake, published in Immigration Daily on 2/13.

Mr. Hake makes a statement that it is "racist" to use the term illegal aliens. He states that "undocumented" aliens are not illegal. He then compares being undocumented to speeding and parking illegal.

There is an important distinction between speeding and being in the country illegally. When I drive faster than the speed limit (and I occasionally do), I am driving illegally. However, I am not an "illegal driver," since my driving privilege is in good standing. If I park my car in someplace where it is not permitted, I am an "illegal parker." but still not an "illegal driver." If I should choose to leave my driver's license at home, I am an "undocumented driver", but not an "illegal driver", since my state allows driving without the license present (though you do have to produce it later if necessary).

In the case of illegal aliens, their right to be an alien present in the United States is the issue at stake. An "undocumented alien" is an alien who is not carrying his or her passport and I-94 form (or green card, or other documentation). In the US, that act is also illegal, but that's not the issue that we are concerned with at the moment. If an alien is in the United States without permission (by entering without inspection or overstaying a visa), that person's alien status is illegal - an "illegal alien." It is possible to become an "illegal driver" by having your driving privilege revoked or just failing to renew it. In most states, that opens you up to a charge of "unlicensed driving". Similarly, a non-citizen in the US can become illegal through government action, or their own action or inaction. Is that fair? Maybe not. But the person is still an "illegal alien." The term "undocumented alien" is not appropriate when referring to people who do not have the right to be present in the United States. If they are here without permission, they are breaking the law - it's that simple.

This represents my personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer.

Mark Smith
Hamilton, NJ


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