The Mix

What's less human than "aliens"? "Illegals."

Anti-immigrant forces have succeeded in framing the border debate so that immigrants are referred to by their legality and not their humanity.
Yahoo News regurgitated this heartless headine from USA Today: "Illegals dying at record rate in Arizona desert."

Perhaps you didn't know that "illegals" is now a noun, rather than an adjective and that it could, in fact, define a person's whole self. The headline implies it is the illegality that is dying, which one might presume is a good thing, rather than a human being with a name, a face, and a family who collapses of thirst and heat exhaustion.

The border enforcement uses the term "UDA," undocumented alien, to describe the people who risk their lives in desperate escapes from poverty. UDA isn't much more of a humane term than "illegals," although I suppose we imagine the existence of ET and other friendly aliens.

The appearance of "UDA" dead bodies, has become, according to a border guard in the USA Today article, "almost routine." It's not just that it's hotter. It's that more people are trying to cross each year.

Our response--to sigh, shake our heads, or fund more border guards, has also become routine. But the deaths on the border are no more necessary than the deaths in Iraq. They are the result of a failed border policy that denies the realities of globalization: NAFTA and other "free trade" agreements have created thousands of displaced poor who look to crossing into the United States as their last possible chance for survival.

Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.
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