‘Illegal Immigrant’ Term Banned At UCLA and UC Berkeley


Following the footsteps of University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the student government at the UC Berkeley has also banned the use of the term 'illegal immigrant,' in academic writing or in communications between faculty, students and staff. The government labeled the term as racially derogatory, offensive and unfair.

Berkeley's student government voted 18-0 on Oct.30 in favor of the ban saying the word 'illegal' is 'racially charge' and 'dehumanizes people' and leads to 'punitive and discriminatory actions aimed primarily at immigrants and communities of color,' the College Fix reports. Only Sen. Solomon Nwoche abstained from voting.

"No human being is illegal," the resolution states. " 'Foreign nationals,' 'undocumented immigrants,' 'immigrants without papers' and 'immigrants seeking status' are examples of terms we can use that do not dehumanize people."

Student Sen. Sean Tan told College Fix that banning the world will help reduce the negative psychological harm caused by the term on undocumented students. Another student Sen. Wendy Pacheco said that the resolution is aimed at changing perception about their 'fellow human beings.'

The university becomes the second California school to ban 'illegal immigrant' this year after the undergraduate student government at UCLA passed a similar resolution over the summer, urging student journalists and campus organizations to refrain from using the term.

The resolution was introduced after undocumented UCLA students expressed 'their concerns and fear' with the recent appointment of Janet Napolitano, former US Secretary of Homeland Security, as the new president of the University of California system. 

During her tenure at the Department of Homeland security (2009-2103), Napolitano set new records in deportations of undocumented immigrants. The department deported more than 779,000 illegal immigrants in 2009 and 2010, a 10 percent increase from 2008. In fiscal year 2012, immigration agents deported more than 400,000 undocumented immigrants, Think Progress reports.

UC officials stated that around 900 undocumented students, out of approximately 234,000 students, attend the University of California public school system.  Undocumented students can apply at any college or university in California as long as they meet admissions requirements. The AB 540 program allows undocumented students who meet specific criteria to pay in-state tuition.

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