Nation of Immigrators
As Prof. Fariborz Ghadar, Senior Advisor and Scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Affairs, observes:
Just as a teenager grows up and dismisses the simplistic views espoused in the fairy tales of childhood, so too must we as a nation face the reality that we are no longer the world leader in welcoming talent.
Consider how, by statute, we label all manner of entrants, be they visitors, temporary workers, would-be immigrants or those long ago granted permanent residency. We call them "aliens" -- a word in all its inhospitable and off-putting variations that invokes the strange, the frightening, the incompatible, the dreaded other.
Consider too these dictionary definitions:
1 [more alien; most alien] : not familiar or like other things you have known : different from what you are used to
▪ She felt lost in an alien [=strange] culture when she moved to the city.▪ an alien environment▪ Honesty seems to be an alien concept in that family. [=people in that family are not honest]— often + to▪ The whole idea of having a job was alien [=unfamiliar, foreign] to him.
2: from another country :foreign
▪ alien residents
3 [more alien; most alien] : too different from something to be acceptable or suitable — + to▪ Such behavior is totally alien to the spirit of the religion.▪ ideas alien to [=incompatible with] democracy
4: from somewhere other than the planet Earth
▪ an alien spaceship▪ The movie is a story about an attack on Earth by an army of alien [=extraterrestrial] monsters.
1.Cause (someone) to feel isolated or estranged.2.Cause (someone) to become unsympathetic or hostile: "the association alienated its members".
1: to make unfriendly, hostile, or indifferent especially where attachment formerly existed
2: to convey or transfer (as property or a right) usually by a specific act rather than the due course of law
3: to cause to be withdrawn or diverted
Synonyms: alien, estrange, disaffect, disgruntle, sour
§ 101(a) Definitions As used in this Act-- . . . (3) The term "alien" means any person not a citizen or national of the United States.
But times and phrasings have changed. We would never refer to people of color today, as "colored" -- the term generally used in the 1950s for African-Americans and other non-Caucasians. So, "aliens" -- the word -- must go.
We should also drop the term "nonimmigrant" from our statutory lexicon because it defines by negation and suggests an inhospitable negativity. Call everyone either visitors (entrants who will stay briefly), sojourners (temporary residents) or immigrants (permanent residents), depending on the envisioned length and purpose of their stay.
If the importance of welcoming words seems like over-the-top political correctness, pause before final judgment, and listen to journalist and poet Musa Okwonga performing "the Migrant Manifesto":
We have been called many names. Illegals. Aliens. Guest Workers. Border crossers. Undesirables. . . .
We demand the same privileges as corporations and the international elite, as they have the freedom to travel and to establish themselves wherever they choose. We are all worthy of opportunity and the chance to progress. We all have the right to a better life. . . .
We believe that the only law deserving of our respect is an unprejudiced law, one that protects everyone, everywhere. No exclusions. No exceptions. We condemn the criminalization of migrant lives. . . .
To be a migrant means to be an explorer; it means movement, this is our shared condition. . . . We have the right to move and the right to not be forced to move. . . .
When the rights of migrants are denied the rights of citizens are at risk.
Dignity has no nationality.
We need immigration policies that reject “us versus them” approaches and instead support integration and connection between all Americans, including aspiring Americans. What’s at stake is the future of all of our families, and the future of the economy.