What’s the Difference Between an Immigrant and an Illegal Alien?

What explains the effort by the PC crowd to get rid of the term “illegal alien?” While they claim the term is demeaning and its use displays prejudice against immigrants, that’s only a smokescreen. They don’t like the term “alien” because that distinguishes between U.S. citizens – whether native-born or immigrants who have become naturalized U.S citizens – and foreigners. They further do not like the term “illegal” because it distinguishes between legal immigrants who – in keeping with our history as a nation of immigrants – we have admitted to become part of our society and those who are gate crashers.

Vice President Biden has emerged as an outspoken proponent of the PC position. He claimed in a December 14 speech in New York, “Many of them [the illegal aliens]are already Americans.”

Why don’t they care about these distinctions? It is because at heart they are open borders advocates who relish the prospect of our society being remade by a tidal wave of foreigners coming regardless of whether they are welcome. In their world view, there should be no distinction between immigrants who are wanted and those who simply want in. To that end they advocate that the gate crashers should be simply referred to as immigrants – or, as Biden would have it, as Americans.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).

1 Comment

  1. avatar

    This Same Open Border Crowd

    Pushes for letting IAs work and its not the fault of the Open Border American Employers….they wildly allege they hired unknowingly. How can you on one hand count undocumented immigrants; then wildly allege in the workplace you can’t?