The Creation of an Illegal Indicant

How the left is gaming the immigration debate


One of the most effective ways liberals win debates in the public square is to declare that certain words and phrases that resonate with the general public are illegal or off limits in polite discussion. They are attempting this with no small measure of success in the abortion arena by essentially wiping with word “abortion” out of the public debate in favor of “reproductive health services,” or, if they are feeling especially Orwellian, “women’s health.”

They are also attempting to perform the same trick in the immigration debate. They have already largely succeeded in convincing the media to completely remove the terms “illegal immigration” or “illegal immigrant” from the public discourse even though those terms are completely accurate indicators of what is occurring and are not in any way imbued with racial overtones, to any objective person.

Instead, the ridiculously empty phrase “undocumented American” has been substituted in its place, as though the people under discussion are American citizens who have lost their social security cards or who were never issued birth certificates or something – as opposed to, you know, immigrants who entered this country illegally.

Liberals are now attempting to perform the same Jedi mind trick with the term “anchor baby.” The tactic they are using, in this instance, is to assert (without a shred of proof or logic, and contrary to ordinary English understanding of the words themselves) that the term is racially offensive and therefore must be stricken from the discussion. Behold Democrat congresswoman Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) 15%, writing in the Washington Post:

As someone who was born in the United States to immigrant parents, I find the phrase “anchor babies” — used by Jeb Bush, Donald Trump and other Republican candidates to describe American-born children of immigrants — incredibly offensive. And the word that keeps coming to mind is the Spanish term, sinvergüenza, which refers to someone utterly without embarrassment or shame. And right now, to many Latinos, the term is synonymous with another word: Republican.

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The “anchor baby” narrative is politics at its worst — serving mostly as a Republican dog-whistle, tapping into an implicit racial sentiment that suggests children of color are less than fully American or they’re just a vehicle for gaming the system.

Pardon me for saying so, but who the hell is Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) 15% to declare, on behalf of an entire ethnic group, that a given phrase is racially offensive?

More to the point, what evidence does she offer that it is intended by its audience to be racially demeaning? What evidence does she offer that the people who hear it have a reason, based in their own history, to understand it as a racially offensive term? None whatsoever. Rather, she just asserts that it is and expects that everyone will accept it as truth – because she happens to be Latina and elected to Congress, she is entitled to act as the Immigration Debate Word Police, apparently.

Look, I’m probably to the left of almost everyone who reads this website on immigration and I’ve taken immigration hardliners to task on their immigration rhetoric before but this gaming of the debate is absurd, insulting, and insidious. It’s also incredibly transparent – if a given term is shown via focus groups to change the way people feel about a given issue, march out a member of the allegedly affected class to declare that all members of that class feel that the term is racist and shouldn’t be used anymore.

I’m for a healthy and reasonable debate about immigration policy in this country, but we can’t even have that debate while liberals are out there determined to declare all the words and terms and positions they don’t like to be racist and therefore off limits. We should be less concerned about the allegedly illegal words people are using than we are about the illegal immigration problem itself.

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