Tracing The Shifting Meaning Of ‘Alien’

822/15 NPR

Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement_SWATRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump repeatedly referred to “criminal aliens” and “illegal aliens” in the immigration plan he released on Sunday. “Alien,” and especially “illegal alien,” have become such staples in the vocabulary of conservative pundits and politicians that many immigrant rights advocates now reject those terms as derogatory and dehumanizing.

But it wasn’t always like that.

Take this excerpt from a letter that a group of Mexican-American law students wrote to the editor of the Los Angeles Times in 1970. They sent it after the paper ran an editorial with a headline that included the term “wetback.”

“We are still faced with insensitive and racist terms, such as wetback, to refer to Mexican nationals who have entered the country illegally,” the students wrote, “and we are now educating the public to use terms like illegal aliens or illegal entrants.”

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Experts: Trump’s Border Wall Could Be Costly, Ineffective

8/19/2015 News Channel 9

Via Flickr user "Gage Skidmore"
Via Flickr user “Gage Skidmore”

Donald Trump, the current frontrunner for the Republican 2016 presidential nomination, released his first policy paper over the weekend, proposing ‘immigration reform that will make America great again.’

Trump has faced criticism for negative comments about illegal immigrants, but he has remained at the top of the Republican field in the polls and some of his opponents vying for the party’s nomination have adopted hardline positions on the issue similar to his.

One of the central tenets of Trump’s immigration policy is a wall across the U.S/Mexico border—’A nation without borders is not a nation,’ he states in his policy paper—but immigration experts question the effectiveness and cost of such a venture.

US: First Step to End Family Immigration Detention

6/25/15 Human Rights Watch

Army detentions MichoacanThe United States Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to scale back its use of family immigration detention could help thousands of children and mothers who are fleeing persecution, Human Rights Watch said today. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced on June 24, 2015, that the Obama administration was committed to “substantial changes” to family immigration detention.

The greatest benefit would be for families who are seeking asylum in the US, Human Rights Watch said. Johnson said that “once a family has established eligibility for asylum or other relief under our laws, long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued.”

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Laredo Border Patrol saw busy weekend

6/22/15 KGNS TV

CBP_Border_Patrol_agent_reads_the_Miranda_rights_U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Laredo Sector significantly disrupted criminal organization activities over the weekend as they rescued illegal immigrants, detained subject with a criminal sexual crime, and made a significant narcotic seizure.

On June 19, at approximately 11:00PM, Laredo North Station agents assigned to the Border Patrol checkpoint located on Interstate Highway 35, rescued 37 illegal immigrants concealed inside a tractor-trailer. The driver was referred to secondary inspection where the agents discovered the undocumented immigrants in the unventilated cargo area. All of the undocumented immigrants were from Mexico.

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Feds arrest 280 immigrants, including 36 in Kansas

6/18/15 Washington Times

hands in handcuffsAuthorities say they have arrested 280 convicted criminals for deportation in six Midwest states, including Kansas, during a monthlong enforcement surge.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a news release Wednesday that of those arrested, 35 men and one woman were found in Kansas. Thirty of the immigrants came from Mexico, and six came from Guatemala. The agency says the immigrants arrested fall within its priorities for deportation. They had previous convictions for armed robbery, drug trafficking, drunken driving and other crimes.
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California on cusp of offering young immigrants health care

6/17/15 Washington Times

medicine healthcare - stethoscopeIn a move that adds momentum to efforts to integrate immigrants, California is on the cusp of extending state-subsidized health care coverage to children from low-income families who are in the country illegally.

Democrats, immigration groups and health care advocates celebrated the announcement as both a cost-saving move and social progress for the state’s estimated 2.5 million immigrants who are in the country illegally. Critics, however, worry that the overburdened state-funded health program can’t handle another 170,000 children.

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Attracting Immigrants Grows Our Economy

6/09/15 Huffington Post – The Blog

naturalizationWe can all be glad that unemployment recently fell to 5.4 percent. But the reality is that consistent economic growth remains elusive.

Fortunately, the country has an untapped source of economic growth potential, and that is the many creative, industrious and motivated immigrants in our country. The United States has historically remained one of the world’s top economies in large part because it has been able to attract diverse people from around the globe, reaping the benefits of their talent and hard work.

But, too often in today’s political climate, immigration is cast as a negative, with issues like border security and unauthorized immigration dominating the news cycle. While we acknowledge the importance of those issues, they are only a part of the broader immigration question. After all, our immigrant population is one of the most promising solutions for our country’s tepid economic growth.

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