Words are very important.
At times we act as if they are not, but they always are.
Words symbolize meaning.
Words provide definition and understanding.
Words point up perceptions and assign significance.
Words set boundaries.
Words close and open doors.
Words clarify or confuse.
Words touch and tear.
Words can be hurled, thrown about or carefully chosen and considered.
Don't be fooled. Words are very important.
So, when I hear people use the descriptive phrase "illegal immigrant," I am offended.
The phrase offends deeply, beyond any passing sense of political correctness. I find the phrase spiritually offensive, inhumane, evil.
It reminds me of another phrase I refuse to use: illegitimate child. How can a child be anything but legitimate?
Actions can be illegal.
The failure to obtain the proper documentation may be an illegal act or an omission that is against the law.
But it is impossible for any person to be "illegal."
By definition people cannot be determined, declared or considered to be "illegal."
No person who understands the spirit and nature of humanity can reach such a conclusion.
I know, I know. My critics will tell me that the phrase does not intend nor imply this depth of judgment. There is no attack on human dignity here. The phrase simply intends to describe the actions of some who come to the U. S. from another country--those who arrive by taking steps that are against the law.
But, I'm not so sure that is the intention of many who throw the phrase about these days.
There is such a short distance between the two words. Even more telling is the proximity of the designation "immigrant" to the human beings who wear the label in the midst of our heated national debate.
So, I repeat: People can be undocumented. People cannot be illegal.
A person may lack necessary papers. A person cannot lack that which makes his or her existence acceptable.
There is a huge difference.
We must take care with our words. They have an affect on our hearts.