It’s actually legally inaccurate to refer somebody as an illegal, because to be in this country without papers is a civil offense not a criminal one.

…As I stand here right now, there are tens of thousands of students across America who are here without papers, and I would hate to think that they’re sitting in their classrooms listening to us talk about them and internalizing the word ‘illegal’…

It’s incredibly dehumanizing and pejorative and comes with it — so many connotations — negative, all of them. That we’re criminals. That we’re not supposed to be within even the block that you live in or the school that you go to.

Actions are illegal — never people. And something is terribly wrong when we refer to people as illegal.

Reporter Jose Antonio Vargas from his talk, "I am an illegal immigrant" at TEDxMidAtlantic.
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