IATE Term of the Week: Illegal Immigrant

This week we have chosen the term “Illegal immigrant” following the worldwide debate on the possible eradication of this term from all official documents.

If you were to name an alternative to this term in your own language, what would it be?

The responses to this poll will not be inserted into IATE but we’re looking forward to hearing your suggestions!

illegal immigrant

About TermCoord

The Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Schuman Building on Place de l'Europe, Luxembourg
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6 Responses to IATE Term of the Week: Illegal Immigrant

  1. Of all the alternatives suggested (both in English and in Spanish) I would choose “irregular immigrant” and “inmigrante irregular”, but very reluctantly, because I believe that the underlying purpose of eradicating the term “illegal” is to supress derogatory or pejorative labels, and “irregular” (and “clandestine” even more so) continue to attach such labels and merely serve as substitutes which strive to eliminate the connotation of illicitude. To my mind, “clandestine” has very unfavorable connotations and I would strongly advocate against its adoption. If the purpose is to discard the use of labels, why not simply call them “foreigners”. Once they have regularized, or normalized, or legalized their situation, they would no longer qualify as foreigners and would become “legal residents” or “legal/naturalized citizens” as may be the case. The Spanish Ley de Extranjería refers to the status of these persons as “extranjeros” (foreigners) and sets the procedure for regularizaton of such status. This is my personal opinion only and therefore I cannot cite any authoritative source for it.

  2. Sorry, correcting a typo of my previous post. Last but one line, should read “regularization”.

  3. Pingback: (MULTI) – IATE Term of the Week: Illegal Immigrant | TermCoord | Glossarissimo!

  4. Following my earlier comments, another possibility has just popped into my head: what about “unauthorized immigrants”. This would have the virtue, as it were, of reflecting that they have not gone through the proper channel of required authorizations, without any hint of misconduct, as in the case of “illegal” or (shudder) “clandestine”. What is your opinion on this?

  5. Nelida K. says:

    Following my earlier suggestion, I have garnered quite a few supporting voices for “unauthorized” among my colleagues, and you wouldn’t believe what a lively, spirited and ongoing debate has sprung up in this topic. If you are active in LinkedIn, maybe you would be interested to follow the argumentation at IATE’s term of the week: Illegal immigrant | LinkedIn http://linkd.in/11mcyiQ.

    • TermCoord says:

      Dear Nelida,

      Thank you again for your constant interest and input in our IATE Term of the week. Your suggestions are insightful and show the difficulty in chosing one particular term.

      Also, thank you very much for sharing our post on your LinkedIn. It is very interesting to read the different opinions and suggestions on the subject.

      Have a good day!

      The TermCoord Unit

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