Here are some tips to keep in mind when you talk about immigration:

  1. Immigrants are people who move—and are part of “us.” Always use inclusive language that emphasizes immigrants’ humanity and full membership in our communities: our neighbors, friends, and families.
  2. Avoid “good immigrants” versus “bad immigrants” talk. All people deserve to be treated humanely, whether they were valedictorians or not, whether they have a legal asylum claim or not, whether they were brought to the U.S. as children or came here on their own.

When people say that young people came to the U.S. through no fault of their own,” it opens the door to thinking that others deserve blame for coming to this country. But being an undocumented immigrant is not a moral failing; it is the result of racist and exclusionary immigration laws.

The idea that some immigrants deserve compassion and others do not undermines support for humane treatment for all—so avoid divisive language.

  1. Welcoming new people and encouraging immigration has been a core part of the American story. Yet throughout history, nativists and immigration restrictionists have portrayed newcomers as an economic, cultural, or security threat. Unfortunately, however unfounded, threat narratives have dominated our public conversation about immigrants.

Avoid using words that reinforce the idea that immigrants should be excluded, restricted, or deported.

Militarizing immigration enforcement, expanding immigrant jails to cage people, and prosecuting everybody at the border does not make us safer. This anti-immigrant talk builds sends fear into our communities. Nobody should be deported. Immigrants should not be treated as a threat. Our language needs to reflect that.

(For more information, go to American Friends Service Committee