Thoughts on FAIR’s Use of the Word “Alien”



A recent FAIR opinion column submission was flagged by an editor who questioned FAIR’s use of the word “alien.”  The editor noted that if the word remained in the column, the publication would be certain to attract a lot of unwanted attention from social justice warriors (my words) who have deemed the term at best insensitive and, at worst, outright hostile.

Sadly, this folly was actually nothing new.  FAIR has been criticized over the years – and sometimes have even had our opinion pieces edited – because of our insistence on the use of the word “alien” when referring to non-citizens.  This infuriates certain elements of the far left, who argue that we’re trying to imply that these individuals are from another planet.  To add insult to injury, when we refer to individuals who are not in the U.S. legally, we refer to them as “illegal aliens,” which really seems to send some folks off the deep end.   

We always push back against these objections, noting that “alien” is a legal term that is used widely by Congress, the Library of Congress, and most attorneys across the U.S. when dealing with immigration matters.  

Most importantly, it is not just Republicans in Congress that use this term.  In fact, it’s worth noting that the H.R. 6, “The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019,” the amnesty bill passed this week and supported by every single Democrat in the House of Representatives, invoked the word “alien” more than 230 times when referring to individuals who are not citizens of the U.S.

Case closed. 

About Author

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Dave rejoined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016 and brings more than thirty years of proactive communications experience working with non-profits, trade associations and the private sector. Dave has written and placed op-eds in more than 100 publications for national and state leaders in fields ranging from immigration to agriculture policy, food and energy. Ray has served as a chief spokesman for several national organizations and has extensive radio and television experience as well.

11 Comments

  1. avatar

    Please consider STOPPING all birthright citizenship FRAUDS thru out the USA past and Present. Also require a mandatory Federal Voter I.D. to vote in this USA Nation.
    1941-present day

  2. avatar

    “Illegal Alien” is fine and proper at the least. I prefer to call them “Illegal Criminals” because if they are here illegally, then they broke our laws to get here; and therefore, by definition and law, they are criminals – PERIOD!!!

  3. avatar

    “…the word ‘alien’…infuriates certain elements of the far left, who argue that we’re trying to imply that these individuals are from another planet. ”

    Throughout the history of the English language the word alien has been defined as “relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government : foreign”. People who think that it refers to fictional beings from other worlds have been watching too much TV. Of course, if we called them something else, such as “foreigners”, they would criticize us for being xenophobic. If we called them “undocumented Americans”, they would criticize us for not providing the documents. You can’t win with these psychos.

  4. avatar

    The Hard Core Open Border Party Scores (OBP) an “F” Grade on Communications’ Etiquette

    It also is rude about anything said that opposes their NWO agenda. They have a likely Thought Disorder, level II or III. They can’t discuss opinions without name calling and RAGE. Period.

  5. avatar

    My thought is that no matter what word is used, there will be someone with issues. The democrats have turned to nagging and nit picking over every little thing as a means of distraction. I live in a City full of Illegals and that is their game. Distract attention away from what is really going on. “Flip the Script” to make anyone questioning their activity, look like the guilty party. They are completely destroying our city. and our city leaders are allowing them to do it to the point that it is starting to look like corruption. ( Oh yes I did)
    The label that should not have been used on the current crisis was “Immigrant Caravan”. If the label had been “Terrorist Invasion” instead, then perhaps the public would have seen it like it is instead of thinking we were being so unfair towards them. Did anyone fight for the rights of the terrorists that took down the twin towers? I think not. Some might say that incident was totally different but really it’s not.

  6. avatar
    Dave Anderson on

    Members of congress take an oath to uphold the US Constitution before taking their seats. Yet, Democrats put the interests of foreign nationals ahead of their own citizens. Our Constitution’s Preamble begins, “We the people…” Madison and founding fathers were referring to US citizens not citizens of Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, etc. Democrats are committing crimes against their own citizens when they are for open borders and allowing a lawless invasion by 3rd world people. What kind of manager refuses to listen to his/her own employees (border agents) regarding how their jobs could be made more efficient and effective? Apparently only Democrats. Truly an abomination!

    • avatar

      Members of the Border Patrol, from the top leadership down to the agent on the border, say that a wall or barrier helps them tremendously because it allows them to control who is coming across the border. The illegals may be able to get over the wall in a lot of instances but it’s time consuming and difficult and that time difference lets the border agents get to that area with sufficient manpower to take them into custody.

      The lack of a wall means that agents can be a mile or two away and in seconds illegals run across the border unimpeded and are well into the country in minutes with little hope that the border patrol can chase even a few of them down. But what does the leftist media and Democratic politicians say. They say walls are “outdated technology”, ineffective, and even “immoral”. But none of those descriptions seem to apply to the walls around the homes of Obama, the Clintons, Pelosi, Soros, the list goes on.

      It’s the same concept with sanctuary cities letting illegal criminals go. Instead of cooperating with ICE by notification, they turn them loose on the streets where ICE has to hunt them down, which is far more dangerous and time consuming than taking custody at a jail or courthouse. Who to assist? ICE or criminals. Sanctuary jurisdictions have made up their minds.

  7. avatar

    Yes, keep on using “alien” — it is the accurate term. I use it myself. Strictly speaking, “immigrant” is one who entered lawfully. The immigrant heritage we Americans value is something built on lawful entry, not border-crashing. The far left needs a continuing inflow of illegal aliens to prop up its voter base.

    • avatar

      8 USC 1101, (Section(a) (3) says : “The term “alien” means any person not a citizen or national of the United States.”
      8 USC 1101, section(a)(15) says: “The term “immigrant” means every alien except an alien who is within one of the following * of nonimmigrant aliens-” (My note; the section goes on to list all classes of non-immigrant visas.)

      Although common usage assumes an “immigrant” is in the U.S. legally, an “immigrant” can be in the U.S. illegally. The definition of “immigrant” says every alien is an immigrant, unless they’re legally admitted to the U.S. in one of the classes of non-immigrant aliens.