Terminology

One of the most difficult aspects to the debate on immigration is the misuse of terminology, either purposely or through misconceptions of certain terms. This section is designed to clarify the use of certain terminology as it relates to immigration.

Mexican-American: although generally misunderstood in the context of the debate on immigration, a Mexican-American is a US citizen born in the United States of Mexican descent. What is important to understand in the context of the immigration debate is that a Mexican-American is a United States citizen and thus entitled to all benefits US citizens are entitled to.

Mexican: As used in the debate on immigration, Mexican can signify a US citizen of Mexican descent or an immigrant who is a citizen of Mexico, whether documented or undocumented. In order to properly participate on the discussion on immigration it is important to avoid using the term “Mexican” without first clarifying if the term is used to signify a US citizen of Mexican descent or a citizen of Mexico. This distinction is especially important on the issue of the use of social benefits by immigrants.

Immigration status: Many of us immigrants find the term “illegal” as offensive for various reasons. The term “undocumented” is the proper terminology because the complexity of the immigration law has created many different statuses. Some of the status can be defined as a criminal violation of the law while others are nothing more than a violation of terms of the admittance into the United States that are administrative in nature rather than criminal. Not all undocumented immigrants cross the border illegally. Many are legally admitted into the country and become undocumented for various reasons including overstaying their permission to remain in the country. Some are technical violations while others are more serious in nature. Very few of the actual violations are criminal in nature if the immigrant was admitted legally into the country.

I will continue to add more terminology as time permits.