UNLV Student Attacked for Immigration Status

To the Editor,

I write this letter with a heavy heart and deep concern for UNLV students, the campus, the community, and my safety. I was recently informed by three current UNLV CSUN (Consolidated Students of the University of Nevada) Student Government members that a CSUN Senator had plans to file a legal case with the elections board against me for wanting to become a CSUN Senator as an “illegal.” This senator is Rachel Stephens. The same senator who has run on campaigns with and was endorsed by our current CSUN President Mark Ciavola and number of the other individuals on the Rebels United circle who control CSUN.  I am so disgusted and disheartened by the current leadership in CSUN. The three individuals who spoke to me said she was freely insulting me, calling me an “illegal” and even going as far as saying she would report me to the federal government to get me deported. This was all done on the third floor of the Student Union in the CSUN offices.  Insultingly, CSUN is entirely funded by student fees; as a matriculated student, the money I work so hard to earn for tuition pays the salary Stephens enjoys as a senator.

I am a third-year History and Women’s Studies dual-major honor student at UNLV. In addition, I have a been a critical leader of a myriad of student organizations such as CSUN, the Rebel Pride Council, UNLV Spectrum, the Rebel Service Council, MEChA de UNLV, and the Alternative Spring Break program. I am involved in my university and campus because I passionately care. I never imagined my desire to better my campus and community could lead to something like this.

I am not illegal. I am undocumented—there’s a difference.

To say  otherwise strips away my very humanity and defames me as a mere object of scorn and subjugation rather than a loving son, driven student and dedicated member of our community.  My very brave and beautiful mom and dad brought me to the United States when I was a little less than two years old. Their hopes were for me to grow up in what they saw as the greatest place on Earth—America; to receive a good education, work hard, and have the opportunities they never had; to do with my life things beyond the imaginations and realities of living in the small pueblo they were raised in.

I am not writing this because I seek sympathy or even understanding. This is not about me. This is about the division, the hateful rhetoric and the many people on the third floor CSUN offices of the student union who continue to offend, disgrace, and disempower the UNLV student population. A lot of issues came to light with the recent elections invalidations, but the work is not done. Mark Ciavola and a gang of those under him have engaged in a number of ad hominem defamation of character campaigns—such as Stephens’ threat to deport me—that attack, humiliate, and silence specific people whom do not swear unyielding allegiance and walk in lockstep with their divide and conquer point of view. I will not be silenced. We need to be aware of the way the current UNLV Student Government leadership is treating the students they are supposed to serve and demand better.

-Jose Ramon Garcia

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  • Lee
    November 19, 2012, 9:03 pm

    While I don’t agree with them making the statements you claim they make I don’t understand your statement of “I am not illegal. I am undocumented—there’s a difference.”

    If you are not here legally, you are Illegal. Period.

    Use any other words you want but that is the bottom line.

    You explain the legal difference please.

    REPLY
    • Justin McAffee@Lee
      November 19, 2012, 9:09 pm

      If I may… I think Jose explained it well:

      “To say otherwise strips away my very humanity and defames me as a mere object of scorn and subjugation rather than a loving son, driven student and dedicated member of our community.”,

      Yes, technically it is grammatically correct to say someone is an illegal immigrant. But bottom line it’s a statement of derision. It demeans someone as merely ILLEGAL as if they aren’t a person. The rule I think most people live by, if a large group of people prefer not to be called something, YOU DON’T CALL THEM THAT! Technically, black people are Negroes. But we generally don’t use that terminology anymore, do we?

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      • Samuel Duarte@Justin McAffee
        November 19, 2012, 9:25 pm

        It is ultimately an act of racism and jealousy, from a group who clearly lacks for education and understanding of what a human being is worth. Shame on Mr. Lee, who may not know any better.

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    • Manuel Macias@Lee
      November 21, 2012, 10:09 am

      Negro i a description of a black person. So do you go around calling black people negroes, if so feel free continue to using the term illegal alien to describe me and many others.

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      • Anny Ommus@Manuel Macias
        November 23, 2012, 7:14 am

        Interesting how you took “Negro” (a word that refers to a person of specific appearance or geographical area) and linked it to “illegal alien” (a phrase that refers to a persons particular legal situation).

        Its as if you said back before 1800’s:

        Chink is a description of a Chinese person. So do you go around calling Chinese people chinks? If so, feel free to continue to use the term slave.

        “Slave” – just like “illegal alien” – isn’t a racist term. Many people of all different races have been or currently are slaves.

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  • Derek VegasstyleGuy Washington
    November 20, 2012, 10:07 am

    Well, well, well. I see the Mark Ciavola axis of evil are at it again. I really should apologize to UNLV. We at Stonewall ran his self loathing Kapo butt out of the gay community when he showed up with his malice and right wing talking points. Evidently hetook his Joe Heck paid for clown act on the road and ended up at UNLV where he has directed his nee acolytes to help strip find from students and attack people who want a quality education and would benefit from the DREAM Act. Yup, just what everyone wants their college experience to be, full of hate and Ciavola. It’s like a day at the park, if the park sits on to of a toxic dump.

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  • Justin McAffee
    November 20, 2012, 1:15 pm

    Let’s see here.
    Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

    Other words for bigot: chauvinist, diehard, doctrinaire, dogmatist, enthusiast, extremist, fanatic, fiend, maniac, monomaniac, opinionated person, partisan, persecutor, puritan, racist, sectarian, segregationist, sexist, stickler, superpatriot, zealot.

    … You Jordan are a bigot.

    When considering what to call a group of 12 million people, most people consider what the group prefers… unless of course you are a bigot, and then you don’t care what they prefer. For example, most people don’t refer to black people as Negroes anymore, do they?

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  • Justin McAffee
    November 20, 2012, 1:19 pm

    In other words, technically you are right. But technically black people are Negroes. Can you imagine if Mitt Romney would have gone around referring to black people as Negroes? Do you get it now?

    REPLY
  • Manuel Santillana
    November 20, 2012, 6:31 pm

    No one is an “illegal” or “illegal alien”!

    The terms “illegal” and “illegal alien” are inaccurate, misleading, dehumanizing and racist.

    1. Just because the US government uses these terms does not mean it is justifiable or okay. Let’s not forget how the US government has also justified slavery/racism, no voting rights for women/sexism, etc, the list goes on. Being critical of the language the government imposes on minority is a must, especially with a country like the United States, which has a long history of hatred and discrimination against minorities.

    2. The terms imply that immigrants are not humans and “don’t belong here.” We need to understand migration as a natural process. Migration is a natural part of life, around the world, people have been migrating for many reasons, often for survival and a better life.

    3. Many documented people commit so-called “illegal” acts like running a red light but we do not go around calling those people “illegals.” Immigrants have traditionally been targeted and scapegoated in the US and other countries for a variety of reasons.

    4. The terms are racist because they target people of color and open the doors to racial profiling. They also perpetuate racist ideas that people of color are of lesser value, criminals and outsiders.

    5.They are inaccurate because they often do not reflect the person immigrant status.Depending on the situation, they may be violating only civil, not criminal law or their status might be in limbo. Other terms people use to define a person undocumented status are “unauthorized,” “aspiring citizen” and “entered without inspection.”

    6. Using these terms demonizes immigrants for migrating and ignores how countries like the US have played a critical part in displacing immigrants from their countries through war and free trade. The implementation of NAFTA and CAFTA, negatively impacted Mexican and Central American peoples/economies through allowance of unequal and unfair subsidizations and the exploitation of labor.

    When speaking about immigration, we need to center the discussions in dignity and love! Acknowledging the naturalness of migrating!

    REPLY
    • Anny Ommus@Manuel Santillana
      November 21, 2012, 2:16 pm

      Yeah no one is an “illegal alien”, just like no one was a “slave” before the 1800’s. Oh, no wait this history book says that there were “slaves” before the 1800’s.

      Why on earth would they call other people “slaves”?
      Oh wait this history book goes on to explain that the reason they were called “slaves” is because that word accurately described their current situation.

      But isn’t “slave” racist?
      Huh, this history book says that many races were “slaves” throughout history.

      So why don’t we use the term “slave” today?
      Oh, the history book says that almost all major nations have changed their laws so that very few people can be accurately be described that way today.

      So then wouldn’t “illegal alien” be acceptable term for people that come from a different nation but don’t obtain legal citizenship?
      Why yes, yes it does.

      But isn’t “illegal alien” still a racist term?
      If you use it to only describe a race of people then yes. Otherwise no.

      So why do we call people “illegal aliens”?
      Because that term accurately describes those people current situation. When the law changes so will the need to use that term.

      REPLY
      • Justin J. McAffee@Anny Ommus
        November 26, 2012, 5:13 pm

        I’m confused… who has ever said calling someone a slave was offensive? There isn’t a large segment of our society claiming that calling them a slave is offensive, and there never was even when there were slaves. So your entire argument here makes no sense.

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        • Anny Ommus@Justin J. McAffee
          November 27, 2012, 2:35 pm

          That’s my point, the same reason why “slave” isn’t offensive should be the same reason why “illegal alien” isn’t offensive. They are the same side of the coin. They both relate a persons legal situation.

          REPLY
          • Justin McAffee@Anny Ommus
            November 27, 2012, 2:58 pm

            I think you are missing my point… “illegal” IS considered offensive to the group and to their legal and citizen counterparts in the Latino community. Slave was never considered offensive to anyone.

            Whether or not “illegal” should or shouldn’t be offensive is a rational question. But bottom line is that it is customary to honor the wishes of any group of people you are referring to by calling them by the words THEY prefer and are comfortable with.

            Oughtn’t we consider others’ wishes when referring to them? When one disregards how an entire group of people feel, that’s a sign of derision. That is why the term illegal is becoming more and more offensive the longer people use it against the wishes of its targeted group.

            Again, whether or not people SHOULD be offended by the term is a separate but reasonable question… and there are reasons why using ILLEGAL as an adjective to describe a human being is offensive. The way I see it, an act of crossing the border without documents and remaining here are both acts that are illegal, but the human being is NOT ILLEGAL.

            Continuing to use the term ILLEGAL also ignores the element of baggage of history of inhumane treatment of undocumented people. It’ much easier to treat a human inhumanely when you can dehumanize them by calling them ILLEGAL.

            I hope you can try to see this from other people’s perspective instead of insisting on a semantic/ grammatical fight.

            Church.

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          • Anny Ommus@Anny Ommus
            November 27, 2012, 3:14 pm

            See the problem with your argument is that YOU are the one assigning “illegal alien” to a certain group of people. I on the other hand see that many different people around the word can be and often are described as as “Illegal alien”. If I as an American immigrated to Canada illegally they would still call me an “Illegal alien”. Just like a slave would be called a slave anywhere in the world. It’s simply not offensive.

            Also how is “undocumented” any better than “illegal”?

            REPLY
          • Justin McAffee@Anny Ommus
            November 27, 2012, 3:29 pm

            How can you say something “simply isn’t offensive” when it offends millions of people? You can arguably say it OUGHT NOT be offensive… but you can’t say it IS NOT offensive. Ought and Is are two different things.

            Calling a human “illegal” sets them up to be looked down upon and mistreated… as if they are common criminals. Undocumented doesn’t have the same effect.

            REPLY
          • Anny Ommus@Anny Ommus
            November 27, 2012, 4:49 pm

            Well let me ask you this … if I were offended by the word “you” and only wanted to be refered to in all sentences as my proper name, would you consider the word “you” offensive? Would you stop using the word “you” when referring to anyone in a sentence because I think it’s offensive?

            It’s your connotation you put on the word “illegal” that makes you think it is offensive. It seems that you think that “undocumented” has a better connotation but ask a Jewish person what they think of the word and you might be surprised.

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          • Justin McAffee@Anny Ommus
            November 27, 2012, 4:59 pm

            If I was a respectful person, which I am, I would not refer to you as “you” against your wishes. As a matter of fact, I generally don’t say ‘hey you’ to people because you don’t usually get a pleasant response to that.

            If Jewish people are offended by undocumented, I would never call them that. It’s a case by case thing. As you said earlier, you have to look at facts in context.

            It isn’t really the connotation I put into the word illegal, it is the highly probable connotation that comes with the word. Considering the millions of people who also see that connotation in the word, I don’t feel I’m off base.

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          • Anny Ommus@Anny Ommus
            November 28, 2012, 9:31 am

            You’re absolutely right, the words we use with people directly are case by case. For example you don’t go around asking if women are pregnant because of your assumptions. Similarly you wouldn’t go around to individuals and call them “illegal aliens” because you assume they are.

            But when you are trying to discuss the topic of immigration reform, the term “illegal immigrants” is the most concise (and neutral) phrase to use to describe the people that are directly affected, while “undocumented” people has multiple meanings. Just like if I were trying to abolish slavery I wouldn’t try to refer to slaves as “workers without pay” or “whipped people” because that doesn’t accurately describe the people I’m talking about.

            For instance, by trying to refer to people as “undocumented” instead of “illegal immigrant”, you have now included people that have been born in America but do not have the correct documents or never filed for them, or people that had their documents destroyed in fire and now are undocumented (more common then you think).

            Also, you keep stating that the term “illegal immigrant” is targeting one specific people (the Latinos). Just because the majority of illegal immigrants in America are from Latin countries does not mean that the term only applies to them. In fact other countries use the term as well, just look at a European newspaper some time.

            For more information on this debate I strongly suggest you read these:

            http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/24/is-illegal-immigrant-the-right-description/

            http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/readers-wont-benefit-if-times-bans-the-term-illegal-immigrant/

            REPLY

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