Use of the Term 'Illegal Alien'

Sage Publications, 2012

9 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2013

See all articles by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

The Pennsylvania State University (University Park) – Penn State Law

Date Written: April 4, 2013


This essay examines the use of the terms “alien,” “illegal,” and “illegal alien.” It will show that use of the term “illegal alien” is problematic because it is subject to many definitions that are often inaccurate. Moreover, even if there is agreement on the scope of the phrase “illegal alien,” the term cannot be fully understood without studying the individual characteristics of those defined by this term as well as the role of the government in sustaining an outdated immigration structure that creates illegal immigration an inevitability. Finally, this essay will show that the term “illegal alien” is dehumanizing because it modifies not just a single action but also the entire person.

Keywords: N/A

JEL Classification: N/A

Suggested Citation

Wadhia, Shoba Sivaprasad, Use of the Term 'Illegal Alien' (April 4, 2013). Sage Publications, 2012, Available at SSRN:

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia (Contact Author)

The Pennsylvania State University (University Park) – Penn State Law ( email )

Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics