Somerville, MA – Mayor and Alderman Joe Curtatone announced a new policy to “discourage’ the use of the phrase illegal immigrants by town leaders and presumably municipal employees. Curtatone’s rule reinforces the concept that all the people illegally living in his town should be referred to as undocumented. The mayor stated that anyone who wants to reside in the city is welcome, according to the Somerville Journal.
Making the term illegal immigrants out-of-bounds came about after a suggestion by a group of youths in Somerville. Board President Tom Taylor had this to say the politically correct terminology policy:
“I hadn’t given it a thought until they brought to my attention how hurtful that term is. Some of their testimony is pretty heart wrenching.”
Elis Melara, 14, was an outspoken advocate for banning the phrase illegal immigrants or illegals. The Somerville teen said the way a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent used the words when her cousin was deported last year made her angry. Melara had this to say during a public meeting on the policy change:
“The officer made him seem like a criminal. He was talking about my cousin like he didn’t matter. He matters to me. The word illegal is a wrong way to describe a human being. A better word is undocumented. I am thankful that I am an American and can do something about it.”
Melara’s concern and love for her cousin is understandable. Those opposed to the policy made a valid point on the matter as well. Entering America illegally is a crime. Referring to an individual who commits a criminal act as an illegal immigrant is not necessarily derogatory, just factual.
Curtatone is serving his fifth term as mayor. He notes that his town has always been a “city of hope” for immigrants from the world. The Massachusetts mayor had this to say about Somerville:
“We made it clear here that whatever your status is, wherever you’re from, we are your mayor, we’re your aldermen, this is your city and we’re here to service you.”
Somerville is located near Cambridge and has a population of approximately 76,519. Massachusetts is home to about 190,000 illegal immigrants, according to the Federation for Immigration Reform.