Mr. Bowman,

Perhaps if you used a different word than “illegal,” you might find a little more compassion for people who are looking for a better way of life by coming to this country, founded on immigrants looking for a better way of life.

Try using the word “undocumented.”  People are not “illegal” or “alien.”

Think of undocumented people fleeing for their lives, having watched their families die in terror.

Think of undocumented people who fear what will happen to their families if they are deported.

Think of undocumented people who face certain death if they are deported.

Think of undocumented people willing to cross the border to find work, work which many documented people in this country will not stoop to.

Think of the word “privilege,” which you seem to forget. We have many privileges living in this country. We have many jobs that are filled with people who do not have privilege but are willing to work to live here.

Try using different words.

— Anne Smiley


Mr. Bowman,

This is a sore subject for me, Bill. Not to be a stick in the mud, but if something is against the law, the appropriate word is “illegal.” 

My great grandparents came here seeking a better life, fleeing crushing poverty and crime in Eastern Europe — along with many others in desperate circumstances. They crossed a freaking ocean in the belly of an overcrowded ship to get here not knowing what would greet them on the shores of America. But they came anyhow, filled with hope and eager to assimilate. They showed up with a couple bucks, didn’t know a soul, didn’t know the language and had nowhere to go — like many of todays’s immigrants. The difference is, they did it legally and were able to build a life here without having to look over their shoulder or live in fear. 

No one gave them money, food stamps, free medical care or a free college education for their trouble, either. They found work as laborers and coal miners and lived in tenement houses and ghettos. They worked hard and played by the rules, determined to give their children a better life, a future filled with possibilities and with hope.

No one felt sorry for them and they didn’t expect anything from anyone. They latched onto every opportunity that came their way and worked hard to improve their lot. Eighty years later, I was the first member on that side of  family to graduate from college, where I worked three jobs to pay my way through and considered myself lucky to have that opportunity.

We do have many privileges in this country. Privileges that my  grandfather, my dad, my uncle and my father-in-law defended as service members in the armed forces and that my husband is still defending at the expense of my marriage and my children’s relationship with their father — to ensure that people have the freedom to say whatever is on their mind.

If someone has an issue with this country’s immigration policy, though, advocating to change the system would be more useful than suggesting we soften our words to make them less offensive. Calling somone “undocumented” instead of “illegal” does not change their circumstances, it only serves to make the person reading about it feel less guilty.

— Stephanie Crider


Mr. Bowman,

My opinion is the only good reporter in the National Media is Sharyl Attkisson.  The recent article by Janice Burton puts her in the same category.  

Paul Werner

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