Why OC Weekly Will Continue to Use the Term "Illegal Immigrant," and Even "Illegals"

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Whenever people ask me whether OC Weekly still uses terms like "illegal immigrant" to refer to undocumented folks, I'm reminded of the episode in The Simpsons when Homer, Apu, Barney, and Mr. Skinner formed the Be Sharps. Bart asked Homer if they destroyed their fame by doing something stupid, like saying they were bigger than Jesus; Homer replied that that was the name of one of their albums, and the album even had them walking on water, in a hilarious parody of the cover art for Abbey Road. So when people ask me about our style guide, about what terms we use to describe folks without papers, I tell them that not only does this infernal rag use "illegal immigrant" and "illegals," I point out that our Navel Gazing category for any Latino-themed story, regardless of documentation or not, is "Illegals! Illegals! Illegals!"

Yep: we do things differently around here. And that's why I've always declined the requests of activists to drop the "i-word"--illegal immigrant and all its derivatives--from our pages, a movement popular nowadays in mainstream journalism, from the Associated Press to the Los Angeles Times. But our case isn't a rash, "edgy" decision--not even close.


There are many reasons why we're opposed to dropping "illegal immigrant" from our infernal. The most truthful, if flippant, response I can offer is that we have a deep problem with banning any words from our pages, no matter how reprehensible--our business is words, to use according to need. And we've used many terms to describe people without papers: we've called illegal immigrants illegal immigrants, DREAMers, undocumented folks, unauthorized immigrants, illegals, and even jes plain ol' immigrants.

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From left: Joe Arpayaso, Barbara Coe, and Bill Hunt. They don't like it when we use their language against them
Which leads to our main reason for using "illegal immigrant"--because we should. We operate in Orange County, California--Hate City, USA, where we've been fighting Know Nothings longer and harder than any publication in the country not named Intelligence Report (the quarterly magazine of the Southern Poverty Law Center). We've chronicled the rise and fall of all the hilarious haters who taught America how to use the issue of illegal immigration for political gain, from Harold Ezell to Barbara Coe, Harald Martin to the Minuteman Project, former Newport Beach councilmember Dick Nichols (who said there were too many Mexicans going to the grassy areas of Corona del Mar State Beach) to Dana Rohrabacher and far too many other losers to list right now.

And if there's one lesson that we've learned in our nearly 18 years of reporting on these pendejos, it's that they don't like when we take their language and flip it on its head--the sociological concept of reappropriation. By using their terms without shame, by twisting the life out of them, we render them useless in their ability to harm during one-on-one incidents; do it enough, and I believe you effect change on a national scale. Intelligent minds can disagree on this point, so all I can offer is our experience, the sense of deflation the other side feels when we use their noxious language, turn it against them, and laugh at their stupidity for using it in the first place. I remember an appearance I once did on KPCC-FM 89.9--I can't remember right now if it was with Larry Mantle or Patt Morrison--but I remember going toe-to-toe with Coe using her argot against her and infuriating her so much that the host essentially had to give them a time-out. And this has happened more than once during other radio appearances.

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27 comments
drakemallard
drakemallard topcommenter



Ted Cruz and  Mario Diaz-Balart,leana Ros-Lehtinen. marco rubio/other cubans have credibility on immigration issues when they advocates that immigrants from other countries are treated the same as those from their homeland – Cuba. So either grant automatic legal status as soon as they set foot on American soil, or make Cubans go through the same process as any other immigrant. Until then, just another hypocrite.

Twenty immigrants who were trying to pretend they had dry feet were caught red-handed. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement rounded up the suspects for posing as Cuban immigrants in order to take advantage of the U.S. amnesty policy. The arrests are part of a growing trend in which immigrants buy forged Cuban documents to claim amnesty in America.

"These individuals came here seeking the freedom and benefits this country provides to Cuban nationals. The operation identified and addressed a vulnerability in the application process," Alysa Erichs, special agent in charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Miami, said in a statement. "These arrests by HSI should send a clear message that we will target anyone who tries to obtain immigration benefits fraudulently."


There should not be a "wet foot, dry foot" policy. Cubans should be subject to the same immigration requirements as any other would be immigrant. No special treatment.

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

AS the leftists take over more and more YOU WILL DO AS YOU'RE TOLD


enjoy your "open minded tolerant" n a  zis aka Dem party

Brainwashed_in_church
Brainwashed_in_church topcommenter

"Undocumented Immigrants" makes it sound like a clerical error.

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

Funny how our 'local news blog' didn't cover the 'undocumented' mother of nine (welfare, of course) who starved her 4 year old into the hospital.

Wetback
Wetback

All these wetbacks promote what is good for wetbacks, each one of the is an INVADER AND MUST BE SHOT!!!!!!!!!! 

Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

The only people that I call illegal immigrants are white people.

Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

europeans and there decendants are the only illegals.

Luke Vafiades
Luke Vafiades

According to the writer, illegal aliens who attend college prefer to be called "undocumented college students" but he did not give the reason why. Presumably because they are retards.

Brian Henry
Brian Henry

So, I guess they attend but are not enrolled in the college? Is that what that term means?

bruz1111
bruz1111

Hell in the 80's growing up we called them wet backs and I still have no problem with that.. I payed and waited to come here LEGALLY from Mexico, so I don't agree with anyone outside of the US breaking laws to get here and then breaking more laws by not ( paying income tax, or say not having auto insurance). What do all these Mexican's that do come illegally have to say about the fact that if you are say from El Salvador and are caught in Mex they get deported on the spot, but expect the US to roll the red carpet out for illegal Mexican... ? Way to stand up for your beliefs Gus !!!

Catherine Turley
Catherine Turley

the world is my country. to do good is my religion. -thomas paine.

Mike Scharnell
Mike Scharnell

Next we'll call burglars "Unwanted House Guests"

Brennan King
Brennan King

Let's call them Immigrants without Portfolio

EA Prieto
EA Prieto

Sometimes you just gotta call a spade a spade.

Will Eudave
Will Eudave

keep it up the more uncomfortable the better

Noe Alamillo
Noe Alamillo

Gypsies? If the tigres can say it, my illegal brethren don't mind.

Luke Vafiades
Luke Vafiades

Until I read the article, the worst euphemism I've heard for illegals is "undocumented workers", a term so vague as to be meaningless. Then this article used the term "undocumented college students" with a straight face.

Wetback
Wetback

@Jerry Vazquez Disgusting Latino, get out of My Country while you still can, WETBACK!!!!!!!!!

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

@Jerry Vazquez We we leave, can we take our roads, bridges, airplanes, internal combustion engine, computers -- heck, steel, copper, and the thing known as 'the wheel' -- with us?

Wetback
Wetback

@Jerry Vazquez @Jerry Vazquez Disgusting Latino, get out of My Country while you still can, WETBACK!!!!!!!!!

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