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Retailers Dump Offensive "Illegal Alien" Halloween Costume; Meanwhile Fox Calls It "Fantastic"

The costume includes an orange prison jumpsuit with the words "Illegal Alien," a fake "Green Card," and an alien mask
 
 
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Immigration activists are calling on retailers to stop selling a controversial "Illegal Alien" Halloween costume featured on the websites of Walgreens, Toys R Us, Target, Meijer, Amazon, and other retailers. It includes an orange prison jumpsuit with the words "Illegal Alien," a fake "Green Card," and an alien mask. The product description reads:

He didn't just cross a border, he crossed a galaxy! He's got his green card, but it's from another planet! Sure to get some laughs, the Illegal Alien Adult Costume includes an orange prison-style jumpsuit with "Illegal Alien" printed on the front, an alien mask and a "green card."

After receiving complaints about the costume, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles wrote a letter to retailers asking them to stop selling the item. Executive director Angelica Salas called it "distasteful, mean-spirited, and ignorant of social stigmas and current debate on immigration reform." Target has complied and apologized, saying, "This was never intended to be part of our assortment. We are moving as quickly as possible to remove it from our Web site." The costume is also no longer on the Toys R Us website.

This morning, however, the hosts of Fox and Friends couldn't get enough of the costume. Steve Doocy exclaimed, "It's a joke! Where's your sense of humor America?" Brian Kilmeade called it "fantastic," adding, "If you're here illegally, go to your local police station and tell them how outraged you arebecause you're an illegal alien and this costume offends you!" Watch it:

Yesterday on Univision, RNC Chairman Michael Steele defended the use of the term "illegal alien," saying although you can "dress it up any way you want," undocumented immigrants are still "here illegally":

RAMOS: Why do you refer to undocumented immigrants as illegal aliens? I’ve spoken with John McCain and Barack Obama, to give you two examples, and they don’t use those terms they call them undocumented immigrants. Why do you call them illegal aliens?

STEELE: Well, if they are here illegally I got a call it what it is. I mean if you can be undocumented -- look you can dress it up any way you want the reality of it is the status is the key feature here, and if the status is such that you did not come through the regular process, that you did not present yourself properly, to be documented then you are here illegally.

"Illegal alien" is a pejorative term that dehumanizes people. The National Hispanic Journalists Association has urged media organizations to stop using the phrase:

Many find the term offensive and dehumanizing because it criminalizes the person rather than the actual act of illegally entering or residing in the United States. The term does not give an accurate description of a person's conditional U.S. status, but rather demeans an individual by describing them as an alien. At the 1994 Unity convention, the four minority journalism groups -- NAHJ, Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association and National Association of Black Journalists -- issued the following statement on this term: "Except in direct quotations, do not use the phrase illegal alien or the word alien, in copy or in headlines, to refer to citizens of a foreign country who have come to the U.S. with no documents to show that they are legally entitled to visit, work or live here. Such terms are considered pejorative not only by those to whom they are applied but by many people of the same ethnic and national backgrounds who are in the U.S. legally."

Amanda Terkel is Deputy Research Director at the Center for American Progress and serves as Deputy Editor for The Progress Report and ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress.