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Coverage Unfair in Aliens Series

June 12, 1988

I often think of the Los Angeles Times as a newspaper that has higher standards, is fairer than most, and cares about the use of language and what it projects and how it affects people. However, for several days now I am confronted with your headlines in the San Diego edition about "illegal aliens" and what is perceived as their crimes.

I believe that before we can effect social justice changes we need to clean up our act. One of our "acts" that serves to isolate and alienate people is how we write and speak, how we use our language--and "illegal aliens" is an example of language usage that causes some people to be perceived as "less than" good, human or desirable.

In 1988 we still have borders throughout the world, but I perceive that, in the future, and perhaps before the end of the century, we will finally acknowledge that we are a global village. At that time, borders will become obsolete and all people will be viewed as citizens of the world.

If we were to travel to Central or South America today and acknowledge that we are American, we would be met with agreement from the residents of whatever town or city we visit, because they, too, are Americans.

When we name our fellow Americans as aliens, we are at the same time dehumanizing and creating a gulf between us, in a time when sisterhood and brotherhood are imperative for global understanding and for the achievement of true peace and justice.

This country was founded by people fleeing political persecution or economic deprivation, and we have proudly proclaimed this at one of our ports of entry: "Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." My own family, who entered this country on the Mayflower, certainly did not stop at the shore and check in for papers! This idea of documentation is relatively new.

I would encourage and be pleased if The Times from this moment forward could lead the way and refer to our fellow native Americans who are simply migrating a bit on the continent and have entered this part of America without the documentation that we require, as immigrants, migrating people or undocumented workers. I feel that this effort would go a long way toward creating a new climate of social justice.


San Diego

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