illegal immigrant

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illegal immigrant (plural illegal immigrants)

  1. (countable, sometimes offensive) Someone who has immigrated into a country by bypassing customs and immigration controls.
    • 2013 September 2, Katherine Timpf, “UCLA student government looks to ban term ‘illegal immigrant’”, in Campus Reform:
      The undergraduate student government at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday calling for the end of the use of the phrase “illegal immigrant,” saying it violates human rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. / “The racially derogatory I-word endangers basic human rights including the presumption of innocence and the right to due process guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution,” the resolution states. / The resolution came in response to undocumented students who had “expressed their concerns and fear with the recent appointment of Janet Napolitano, former US Secretary of Homeland Security,” as the new University of California president.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The use of "illegal" to describe a person, rather than an action a person has undertaken, is often regarded as offensive.[1][2][3]



Coordinate terms[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Charles Garcia (2012-07-05) Special to CNN[1], CNN:
    When you label someone an "illegal alien" or "illegal immigrant" or just plain "illegal," you are effectively saying the individual, as opposed to the actions the person has taken, is unlawful. The terms imply the very existence of an unauthorized migrant in America is criminal. In this country, there is still a presumption of innocence that requires a jury to convict someone of a crime. If you don't pay your taxes, are you an illegal? What if you get a speeding ticket? A murder conviction? No. You're still not an illegal. Even alleged terrorists and child molesters aren't labeled illegals.
  2. ^ Jacob Chamberlain (2013-04-13), “AP Finally Agrees: “No Human Being is Illegal””, in Common Dreams[2]
  3. ^ Steve Padilla and Selene Rivera (2016-04-03), “Library of Congress to stop using term 'illegal alien'”, in Los Angeles Times[3]
  • Sterne, Peter (2013-04-03), “No more 'illegal immigrants' in AP stories”, in Columbia Journalism Review[4], retrieved 2013-04-03