Sunday, April 26, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Wrong debate on immigration

navarrette column sig

By
From page A11 | February 16, 2014 |

SAN DIEGO — Justice Sonia Sotomayor has injudiciously reignited the conversation over words used in the immigration debate just when the prospects for immigration reform in Congress are holding on by a thread.

Let’s focus on what’s important. Lawmakers need to find the courage and common sense to break the impasse over immigration in a way that secures the border, provides businesses with workers, makes it easier for immigrants to come here legally, and gives the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States an earned path to legal status with or without citizenship. It’s important to have something that neither political party wants to have: an honest discussion.

But it’s not important whether we call those living in the United States without the proper documents “illegal immigrants” rather than “undocumented workers,” “authorized visitors” or whatever the latest politically correct term happens to be.

In response to a question earlier this month at Yale Law School, the first Latina on the Supreme Court warned against using terms such as “illegal alien” and said that labeling immigrants as criminals strikes her as “insulting.”

“I think people then paint those individuals as something less than worthy human beings and it changes the conversation,” Sotomayor said.

Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham lashed out at Sotomayor by insisting that the justice’s “allegiance obviously goes to her immigrant family background and not to the U.S. Constitution.”

Who’s right – Sotomayor or Ingraham? Neither.

With regard to Sotomayor, I’ll agree that “illegal alien” is unacceptable, and so is using “illegal” as a noun.

But there’s another term, which Sotomayor did not mention – “illegal immigrant.” That phrasing is fine. Some critics disagree and insist that even this more harmless term “dehumanizes” people and promotes racism.

Baloney. A two-word phrase does all that? Do you know what “dehumanizes” immigrants? The fact that so many of them have been deported by this administration, something that has been ignored or excused by some of the same folks who are up in arms over what to call them.

This isn’t about illegal immigrants. I’ve interviewed many of them over the years, and I’ve never had one of them tell me that what they are most worried about is terminology. They only want five things from this country: a job; a work permit so they can support their families; a driver’s license so they can get to work; the ability to cross borders to visit relatives; and to be left alone.

This is about a bunch of do-gooders who want to go to bat for these illegal immigrants but don’t want to sully their hands with the idea that they’re defending lawbreakers. So they pretend that no laws were broken.

It won’t sell. One minute, those of us who want immigration reform are arguing that illegal immigrants should have the opportunity, via earned legalization, to make amends for wrongdoing. The next, the word police are arguing that the immigrants did nothing wrong?

Republicans in Congress who are willing to grant legal status to illegal immigrants aren’t asking for much. But one thing they do need – and which figured prominently in the list of principles they recently released – is an admission of wrongdoing by illegal immigrants who want to get right with the law.

Insisting that no law was broken and that those who are here illegally are really just “undocumented” or “unauthorized” will kill reform for sure.

Ingraham missed most of this, preferring instead to simply zing Sotomayor for allegedly being too wedded to “her immigrant family background.” What immigrant family background is that? Apparently, geography is not the host’s strong suit. Sotomayor is Puerto Rican. As were both of her parents. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, not immigrants.

Does Ingraham think that Sotomayor is Mexican? Salvadoran? Peruvian? Does she think that 53 million Latinos in the United States have the same beliefs and immigrant backgrounds? Really?

What about implying that Sotomayor believes as she does because of some kind of “allegiance”? Do white Americans have to put up with accusations like that, or are they reserved for minorities? Whether or not Ingraham agrees with Sotomayor on terminology, she should at least have the professionalism and courtesy to assume that the justice’s point of view is coming as much from her head as it is from her heart.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Americans apparently aren’t ready to sort out how we should talk about illegal immigrants. We don’t even know how to talk to one another.

Ruben Navarrette is a columnist for U-T San Diego. Reach him at [email protected]

Ruben Navarrette

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Children enjoy day of fishing at Fairfield pond

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Solano cities celebrate Earth Day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Hard-fought battle ends in victory

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Expo shows Kroc Center fun for whole Framily

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Edibles in your landscape

By Daily Republic | From Page: C4

 
Suisun police execute tobacco sting

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

CHP offers free class for senior drivers

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
Patrons raise a glass to toast a good cause

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Walk MS hits stride along Suisun waterfront

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Covered California offers Solano enrollment events

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Weather for Sunday, April 26, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B6

 
Be wary of next ‘big’ thing

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

Pay close attention to investment costs

By Mark Sievers | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

 
.

US / World

With legalization, lawyers turn to business of pot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

 
Spring storm delivers late rain, snow to Northern California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Remains of dismembered newborn found in South Los Angeles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Nearly 17 million watch Jenner interview

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Starbucks stores reopen Saturday after computer glitch

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Aden hit by coalition airstrikes amid fierce street battles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Mother in custody dispute freed after 8 years behind bars

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Italy marks 70th anniversary of anti-Nazi uprising

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

European authorities stop illegal horse meat network

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Italian navy rescues 274 from migrant ship off Libyan coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Army shutting down wounded warrior transition care units

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Warrior pose: Yoga catching on as therapy for veterans’ PTSD

By The Washington Post | From Page: B10

Toll climbs after powerful quake hits Nepal: Things to Know

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Opinion

How can we give them more?

By Brian Thiemer | From Page: A8, 8 Comments

 
Sound off for April 26, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Corruption tarnishes values of our ancestors

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
Obama sides with enemy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 29 Comments

Who’s asleep at the switch?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 26, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in history: Sunday, April 26

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Brides show short wedding gowns more of the love

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Vatican goes on offensive to defend US-Spanish saint

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

You get what you need with Jesus

By Noel Reese | From Page: C3, 4 Comments

 
 
How can I trust my husband after he texted a younger woman behind my back?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

Horoscope: April 26, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
Old standby body-weight training still has moves

By The Washington Post | From Page: C7

 
Milan spiffs up for Expo 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: C7

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
More copies of Laura Ingalls Wilder memoir being printed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Amber Tamblyn writes book of poetry about dead actresses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Giants beat Rockies 5-4 in 11 innings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors complete sweep with 109-98 win over Pelicans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Athletics drop 3rd straight game, 9-3 to Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Rain postpones NASCAR race at Richmond until Sunday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Klitschko outpoints Jennings to defend heavyweight titles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Michael Schumacher’s son makes strong Formula 4 debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
US routs Canada 7-2 in semifinal at under-18 hockey worlds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Watford back in Premier League after 8-year absence

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Several Kentucky Derby hopefuls get workouts in before rain

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Levy falters at Volvo China Open; 4 tied for lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Former Expos executive Jim Fanning dies at 87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam team to lead Legends of Golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Compton, Day top leaderboard in rain-plagued Zurich Classic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Suzuki breaks Oh’s record for runs by a Japanese player

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bulldogs get 10-0 baseball win over Panthers

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Canadian teen Henderson has 1-shot lead in LPGA Tour event

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
A’s place Ben Zobrist on disabled list with knee injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

7 players from Royals, White Sox punished by MLB for brawl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Bowling report for April 26, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Bayless’ layup at buzzer gives Bucks 92-90 win over Bulls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
Nets beat Hawks 91-83, pull within 2-1 in series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Grizzlies hold off a late Trail Blazers rally to go up 3-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Hometown report: Bicycle racing, youth track

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Sports on TV for Sunday, April 26, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B5

 
This date in sports history for April 26

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Business

Veggies take center plate as healthy fast food chains expand

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
What’s in a hotel name? Guests try to decipher the mystery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Is ice cream safe? Federal health officials say yes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
 
Don’t panic, college seniors: Jobs for grads likely to grow

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

Nicole Herdia Spann

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Reginald Morris Davis

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics