The term undocumented immigrant refers to a foreign born person reciting in a given country without the legal right to be in that country. The history of immigration in the United States is fought with racist and discriminatory practices that criminalize and marginalize those who come to this country seeking refuge and other possibilities for their lives and their families.
Undocumented immigrants often referred to by the government as illegal aliens, are subjected to racial profiling, forced separation from their families and their homes, workplace rates, being illegally and inhumanly detained, placed in detention centers, children being caged and separated from their families, police brutality, violence and sexual abuse. Words and the ideas they transmit matter. They shape our narratives and worldviews and in the discourse around immigration in the United States, there is a history of violent and dehumanizing labels. So laws and slogans thrown towards immigrants and especially towards those who are non-white and undocumented.
The president of the United States has systematically used his most hateful language, inciting racism and violence towards immigrants using such rhetoric as illegals, bad hombres and vilify Mexicans and central American immigrants as criminals and rapists. Trump’s Mexico border wall and zero tolerance campaign normalizes once again the use of the term illegals. This label is often used in mainstream discourse interchangeably with the term, undocumented immigrant.
The term illegals is employed by white nationalists to criminalize and dehumanize immigrants, especially black and Brown folks. Actions matter the most. And there is a relentless attack on immigrants, especially since the establishment of ice after 911 which has had disastrous effects on our communities and lives citing a few research center study based on the numbers from the federal government. And I quote, “The of immigrant apprehensions at the US-Mexico border rose in fiscal year 2019 to its highest annual level in 12 years. The 851,508 apprehensions recorded last fiscal year, we’re more than double the number of the year before but still well short of the levels in the early 2000s.”
The experiences of the lives of immigrants throughout the history of the United States who face exploitation, racism, deportation, and other oppressive conditions are emblematic of the struggles of millions of undocumented people who deal daily with isolation from peers. The struggle to pursue an education, fears of detention and deportation and the trauma of separation from family and loved ones. The immigration movement has fought for years to transform the reality of immigrants in this country and to call attention to the US imperialist practices all over the world and particularly in Latin America.
Conditions which make migration a necessity for millions of our people, people who struggle, people who live, who work and who know that to survive, we have to fight in solidarity for our lives and to win. This has been the word of the day.