This Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of International Migrants Day and the 20th anniversary of the passage of the U.N. Convention to Protect Migrant Workers. This is an important moment to reflect on the fact that today nearly one billion people are on the move across the world, and they are increasingly the target of hatred and violence. That’s why I am celebrating International Migrants Day by signing the pledge to respect immigrants everywhere by dropping the i-word and demanding that the media do the same.
Politicians and media alike use the word “illegal” to describe human beings without immigration status, sometimes shortening “illegal immigrant” to “illegals.” While this may seem trivial to some, the language of criminality plays an enormous part in moving people along the continuum from language to violent behavior. Calling people “illegal,” describing them in ways that make them less them human, recasts them as members of an undeserving sub-class that are owed less respect than what would otherwise be acceptable for “regular” human beings. […]
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