Spitting in reality’s eye, some journalists still are referring to Elvira Arellano and other illegal aliens as an “undocumented worker.”
Arellano, who has become the darling of the abolish-all-immigration-laws crowd, is holed up in a Chicago storefront church, claiming a non-existent sanctuary right against being deported for crossing the Mexican border, for the third time, illegally.
Of course, we’re no longer allowed to call her an alien because to do so hurts feelings. Even though the dictionary simply defines alien as a foreigner, especially someone who isn’t a naturalized citizen. I suppose we could call her an illegal foreigner, but foreigner, too, soon may be the next standard English word to be deposited in the trash by the political correctors.
Despite the precise meaning of illegal alien, we instead get language glop. Take “undocumented worker.” Here, undocumented is an adjective modifies “worker” — meaning that it restricts or adds to the meaning of the noun, worker. In other words, undocumented worker is, or at least ought to be, a reference to her employment status, not her immigration status.
Further, as a worker, she probably is not undocumented. Unless she is paid in cash, and no one has kept any records of her employment or existence in the workforce. However, she is documented in one sense: Among her documents was a fake social security card. Which technically documents her as a worker and more broadly as a dues paying member of American society. So, it turns out, you can’t call her an “undocumented worker” because she has a document, albeit a fake one.
She is clearly documented in another sense: Her rap sheet spells out her various violations of law.
The misuse of “undocumented worker” by her supporters isn’t a mistake, or a sign of ignorance. It’s an intentional deception, designed to soften her real status as a law-breaker. Poor, poor Ms. Arellano. She only wants to be left alone, to enjoy the things that everyone else does. If it weren’t for a piece of paper that the coldhearted have denied her, she would live just like every American citizen, as justice requires.
Reporters and commentators, as well as their editors, who let this deception creep into their copy should have more respect for the language. But accurately describing reality with precise language no longer is what it used to be in the media racket. Readers, viewers and listeners now are required to contemplate reality through a hazy gauze of a hue prescribed by “journalists” more interested in desired “outcomes” than in objective reporting and honest commentary.
To some, this might seem to be making too much of a minor linguistic matter. But it’s more than that, because this persistent and determined misuse of language reveals a degree of dishonesty unsuited for a constitutionally protected profession.