Sunday, October 30, 2011

US Halloween costume dehumanizes both legal and illegal immgrants

During our last Halloween in the US, this costume was very popular. I think it blurs the lines even further between illegal and legal, the “illegal alien” even has a “green card”. The immigrant is criminalized by the orange jumpsuit worn by inmates in US prisons. Complete the costume by the extra-terrestrial mask. The ad jokingly states "He didn't just cross a border, he crossed a galaxy". Much to my disappointment this costume was even available in several of my favourite stores.

Thankfully no trick or treater turned up on my doorstep wearing this costume. I would have been so upset. This is just more confirmation that, even as a legal immigrant, I was unwelcome in the US and would never belong there.

Alien is a word used by the U.S. government to describe a foreign-born person who is not a US citizen. People who enter the United States legally are also known as “aliens”, and a green card (which is no longer green) is an “Alien Registration Card”.

Webster’s definition of the word “alien” includes the U.S. governments interpretation, but goes on to include other, darker, meanings for the word such as “a non-terrestrial being” “strange”, “hostile”, “not of planet earth”. Encyclopaedia Britannica states “in early times the tendency was to look upon the alien as an enemy and to treat him as a criminal or an outlaw”.

Legal or illegal, I think the word “alien” is very offensive and dehumanizing. I was an immigrant in the US. I was from Canada, not another planet. The last time I renewed my green card, the agent asked another agent to “send the next alien in”. I have a name, please use it.

Life for immigrants, legal or illegal, is getting very tough in the US.

My US citizen husband is an immigrant to Canada. He has not had to put up with any of this nonsense, but has been made to feel very welcome.

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