Why we shouldn’t use the term “illegal migrant” (Views and Reviews)

Author/s:
David Ingleby, Allan Krasnik, Roumyana Petrova-Benedict

Year:
2018

Language:
English

Publication Type:
News/ Article feature
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External
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Description: 

Words have consequences, especially in situations where strong emotions, as well as social and political conflicts, are endemic. Raj Bhopal’s rapid response in The BMJ, in which he objected to the use of the phrase “illegal migrant” on the grounds that only actions, not persons, can be deemed illegal, merits further reflection and dissection. 
 
Some people think that those who protest against this phrase are taking sides with migrants in conflict with the law, in a futile attempt to cover up what is going on. On the contrary: the very idea that a person can be illegal is incompatible with the rule of law, which is founded on the idea that everyone has the right to due process and is equal in the eyes of the law. Labelling a person as illegal insinuates that their very existence is unlawful. 
 
 IOM Contributor:  Roumyana Petrova-Benedict (Brussels) 

Region/Country (by coverage): 
Publisher: 
BMJ