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“Undocumented Immigrant” or “Illegal Alien”?

By Greg L | 19 September 2009 | National Politics, Illegal Aliens | 10 Comments

The ninth circuit answered this question for us last year in Martinez v. Regents of U.C. (Super. Ct. No. CV052064), and still some folks seem to confused.  This determination to use the term “undocumented immigrant” might lead a cynic to the conclusion that the intent here isn’t to legally describe a class of persons, but to try to “frame” an issue using Orwellian language in order to advance a political position.  But that wouldn’t be us now, would it?

Page 3, Footnote 2

Defendants prefer the term “undocumented immigrants.” However, defendants do not cite any authoritative definition of the term and do not support their assertion that the terms “undocumented immigrant” and “illegal alien” are interchangeable. We consider the term “illegal alien” less ambiguous. Thus, under federal law, an “alien” is “any person not a citizen or national of the United States.” (8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(3).) A “national of the United States” means a U.S. citizen or a noncitizen who owes permanent allegiance to the United States. (8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(22).) Under federal law, “immigrant” means every alien except those classified by federal law as nonimmigrant aliens. (8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15).) “Nonimmigrant aliens” are, in general, temporary visitors to the United States, such as diplomats and students who have no intention of abandoning their residence in a foreign country. (8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(F), (G); Elkins v. Moreno (1978) 435 U.S. 647, 664-665 [55 L.Ed.2d 614, 627-628] [under pre-1996 law, held the question whether nonimmigrant aliens could become domiciliaries of Maryland for purposes of in-state college tuition was a matter of state law].) The federal statutes at issue in this appeal refer to “alien[s] who [are] not lawfully present in the United States.” (8 U.S.C. §§ 1621(d), 1623.) In place of the cumbersome phrase “alien[s] who [are] not lawfully present,” we shall use the term “illegal aliens.”


So now when the lefties complain again that the term “illegal alien” is improper, you’ve got the citation needed in order to demonstrate how pathetically stupid they are.  The amnesty debate looks like it’s going to heat up again pretty soon, so readers will most likely be able to use this reference in short order, and of course often.

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  1. Disgusted said on 19 Sep 2009 at 7:53 am:
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    Nice & neat with pretty little bow on top. Good job!

  2. The Patriot (Got E-Verify???) said on 19 Sep 2009 at 7:56 am:
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    Illegal Aliens are not “undocumented” (they use many forms of “forged” documents to operate and get jobs). That activity is “illegal”. Therefore, they are “illegally documented aliens”.

  3. The Patriot (Got E-Verify???) said on 19 Sep 2009 at 8:04 am:
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    “ACORN Accused of Using Federal Money for Immigration Battle”

    This investigation should happen! Now what about NCLR? They receive plenty of OUR tax money….and I believe they use it in their efforts to counter our efforts to stop amnesty and pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens. NCLR must be investigated too! Someone in the mainstream media needs to break this wide open.

  4. Anonymous said on 19 Sep 2009 at 9:27 am:
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    The two junior investigators need to consult with NCLR posing as illegal aliens trying to establish a business. That would be very interesting.

  5. es_la_ley said on 19 Sep 2009 at 2:36 pm:
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    From the Ninth Circus no less!

  6. JM said on 19 Sep 2009 at 4:04 pm:
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    For those who are not aware, the Ninth Circuit Court is the MOST LIBERAL federal appeals court in the nation. If they aren’t on board with the “undocumented immigrant” misnomer, then the term truly has no validity.

  7. Harry C from Manassas said on 20 Sep 2009 at 8:21 pm:
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    Exactly. The “Ninth Circus”, the most liberal (and reversed) Circuit Court in the country is on board with unambiguous language.

    We don’t need Liberal Newspeak to know what is going on.

  8. Walt Kurtz said on 21 Sep 2009 at 8:54 am:
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    I prefer calling a spade a fricking shovel, so I use the term, “Illegal Invaders.” It’s much more descriptive conveys the crux of the issue involving these folks.

  9. NoVA Scout said on 21 Sep 2009 at 9:06 pm:
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    Where does the idea come from (other than the author of the post saying so - a standard of factual accuracy long ago abandoned here) that this is a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit? I sure don’t see that. It looks fairly patently to be an intermediate state appellate court decision from California - one that has a little age on it at that. If someone can show me I’m wrong, I’ll apologize gracefully, but the docket number looks like a state court matter that goes back a few years.

    As to the footnote itself, it has no legal significance. The state court (not the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) was looking for a coinage convention for its decision and explained, reasonably enough it seems in this context, that it would use “illegal aliens” as a descriptor in a case questioning whether resident illegal aliens were entitled to in-state tuition in California. One can use any number of descriptors as long as one does so consistently. I tend to favor “uninspected entrant” (which is the violation for sneaking across) for people who cross the border without going through required border checks and “illegal aliens” for those who overstay visas (or who otherwise enter legally, but then go out of status). The latter term is big enough to sweep in anyone who is here who shouldn’t be, but so is undocumented worker and any number of other terms. But I’m not sure it matters as long as we all know what we are talking about.

    I would think anyone who reads court opinions with any frequency would wonder why this is significant.

  10. Big Dog said on 22 Sep 2009 at 9:31 pm:
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    “Illegal Alien” has always made me think of the movie “Men In Black”.

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