My mother is an alien….

No really she is! She’s an alien. She even speaks a little funny, you know with an accent. No she’s not from Mars, but she is an alien: a resident alien. When I was little we would look through her wallet, like any curious child, and would find her resident alien card. My sisters and I would laugh about how our mother was an “alien”.

Here’s what I don’t understand. Why do we choose such awkward or harsh words like “alien” to label individuals like my mother who found a way to live  in this country in order to have a better life? I mean really, alien? Talk about the government sending a message, like you can live here, but remember you are not part of us. It’s like they are saying, you, my dear, are different and don’t really belong here. And they argue about residents not assimilating fast enough!

Maybe I’m over-exaggerating. Maybe the term is just outdated and at one point it wasn’t so harsh, so awkward. Ummm, nope, alien has always meant alien! There have been changes as to how we address people in this country. For instance, I am hearing more undocumented vs. illegal immigrant, but then again this also poses some sort of tension. It’s as if these people don’t exist. They don’t have documents. I’m sure they have birth certificates, cedulas, and marriage certificates. They may just not have the “right” ones.

Now, I know there are logical reasons for the labels. Every country needs to have some sort of keeping track of who their residents are etc etc. I just wish they would choose different terms or consider the terms they are using a little better. I’m not scarred by the fact that my mother is an alien, but as a child I didn’t fully understand why she was referred to as one. The message I got was that she didn’t fully belong, therefore I didn’t fully belong to this country.

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One thought on “My mother is an alien….

  1. Tracy says:

    As someone who loves language and dissecting/interpreting the meaning in words, I love this post. I agree that the connotation of the word “alien” is not friendly at all. “Undocumented” is much better than “illegal” but still lacks warmth.

    In general, any label for human beings in any language will come up lacking when you’re trying to describe someone who has crossed an invisible man-made line that only has significance to politicians and the people they manipulate into believe there is an “us” and “them”.

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