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Advice

Ron Fink: Free Speech and Use of the Term ‘Illegal Alien’

There has been a lot of fuss over the use of the term “illegal alien” in local newspapers lately. Of course, all this fuss is coming from the far left quadrant of the political scene.

Noozhawk reported last Thursday: “An estimated 200 people converged on De la Guerra Plaza in downtown Santa Barbara on Thursday night to protest a recent headline in the Santa Barbara News-Press that referred to undocumented immigrants as 'Illegals.'"

The report stemmed from an effort by California Democrats to further the effort to create a safe haven for illegal aliens by allowing them to obtain driver's licenses if they pass the entire test protocol that legal residents have to pass.

Reports last Sunday in Lompoc, home to one of the four centers statewide built to serve illegal aliens, indicate that only 36 percent of those tested could pass the written test with many taking it multiple times; maybe they should have read the driver's manual like all of us do before trying out for a license. This test isn’t supposed to be easy; it’s supposed to test your ability to understand the rules of the road. Note: I passed, but I missed two questions on my last driver's test and I read the book.

Maybe they thought the state was going to give them a license just because they showed up. After all, doesn’t the government give them a lot of other stuff, too?

Now that a large number of them aren’t able to pass the written test, it is not beyond the realm of possibilities that liberals will next try to modify the law and allow that the written test be waived because the illegal aliens either can’t comprehend our driving rules or can’t figure out which of the four answers is the best choice.

But back to the charge that the use of illegal alien is somehow a derogatory term being applied to Hispanics.

First, we should look and see what the officials, the federal government and lawyers, who are responsible for identifying the status of people living in our nation, think and what they call people who are not citizens and haven’t come here legally.

The Internal Revenue Service: “Illegal alien, also known as an 'undocumented alien,' is an alien who has entered the United States illegally and is deportable if apprehended, or an alien who entered the United States legally but who has fallen 'out of status' and is deportable.” Black’s Law Dictionary: “What is an illegal alien? This term is given to a foreigner living in the U.S. with no right to stay who has taken no steps to become a citizen."

You will notice that national origin is not part of the definition.

So it’s clear that not only the Santa Barbara News-Press but others whose job it is to make and enforce our laws are in agreement on what to call these folks. Trying to sugarcoat the issue isn’t helpful, and calling them what they are as defined by the government and legal scholars isn’t racist or derogatory — it’s just a fact.

This country is made up of many nationalities who immigrated here legally. Illegal aliens, just like those here legally, come from Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and, yes, Mexico. It just so happens that the largest majority in our area are Hispanic, but that’s probably because our border is so porous that it’s fairly simple for our neighbors to slip quietly into the United States.

Opinions and news reports that are based on facts are bothersome to many on the left. They would rather restrict the dissemination of the truth concerning issues about race relations, and in this case a discussion of illegal aliens to favor of their own agendas.

I hope that the news media don’t cave in to the demands of the poorly informed demonstrators.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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