What a crock!!! Have people forgotten the definition of the word "illegal"? The "black" Ga. House of Representative member pushing this obviously has a large number of julios in his ballywick and is trying to garner the hispanic vote. 'Illegal': Slur or accurate label? 'Undocumented' preferred by some for certain immigrants; others see cover-up By RICK BADIE The Atlanta Journal-Constitution For Jerry Gonzalez, the term "illegal immigrant" packs as much vitriol as some racial slurs. Many Latinos, he said, find it offensive. "It's easy to dismiss someone when you use a disparaging term such as 'illegal immigrant' or 'illegal alien,' " surmised Gonzalez, who oversees the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, an Atlanta-based political action committee. "I can't speak for other immigrant groups," he said, "but on behalf of the Latino community, many people I speak to on a day-to-day basis think it serves to dehumanize the person, makes them less than human. Similar to the way the n-word was used to dehumanize African-Americans." It's not a pressing matter for the association, but the issue of what to call the state's 228,000 illegal immigrants has taken up space on the group's 2004 legislative agenda. Gonzalez, the executive director, plans to lobby state lawmakers to use the term "undocumented workers" when talking about Mexicans and other foreigners here illegally. "It's a more accurate reflection of people who provide a great deal for the economy," he said. Gonzalez's reference that the term "illegal immigrant" prompts derision does not carry weight with some others. "I don't think so at all," said Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of "Mexifornia: A State of Becoming." "It doesn't describe a person in a negative, pejorative way. It means they don't have U.S. citizenship and that they didn't come to the United States in a lawful manner." " 'Illegal' means you came as an immigrant, and broke the law," said Hanson, who founded the classics studies department at Fresno State University "It's a precise term, and not just for Mexicans." D.A. King, founder of the American Resistance Foundation, a Marietta-based group that seeks tougher enforcement of immigration laws, said the term "undocumented workers" is "a politically correct invention to soften the brutal fact that these people are breaking the law." "A good comparison would be to say a bank robber simply made an unauthorized withdrawal," he said. But Mexicans who make illegal border crossings for job-rich cities like Atlanta "have no choice" but to break the law, said Victoria Chacon, founder and president of the South East Hispanic Media Association. Term of choice In La Vision de Georgia, the Spanish language newspaper she publishes Monday through Friday, Chacon has adopted "undocumented workers" as the term of choice. "I don't think it's illegal to come here, work hard, and live in peace," she said. "They come for their family, risk their lives to find a better lifestyle." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and many other news organizations use both "undocumented immigrants" and "illegal immigrants" in describing foreigners who are in the country illegally. Meanwhile, Gonzalez of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials says illegal residents fall into two categories: foreigners who never got the proper papers or those who received them, but allowed them to lapse. "Either way they are here," Gonzalez said, "undocumented in this country. The term 'illegal alien' works to discredit the honest and thoughtful discussion that needs to take place in reforming immigration policy. It doesn't move the discussion beyond the fact that we have 8 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country because of our failed immigration policy." The Centers for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, credits the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services) with inventing the term "undocumented workers" during the Carter administration. "People wanted a P.C. word that downplayed the illegality of illegal immigration," said Mark Krikorian, the center's executive director. "It has no basis in law." To his knowledge, there aren't any other campaigns to encourage use of "undocumented workers." Not that it's needed. "It's been spreading," said Krikorian, who called comparing the term "illegal immigrants" to the n-word "an outrage."