Essentially, all immigrant stories concern labels and their consequences, including the fiction of the legal and illegal "alien. ' These labels in turn are created by immigration regimes that have the effect of establishing identities of both welcomed and unwelcome newcomers into a society. These fictions or labels occur within what can be described as the legal fiction of the nation-state. In many respects, all immigrant debates and accounts are tales of inclusion and membership within legal frameworks that decide which groups of people are deemed worthy of eventual formal membership within a political structure. Indeed, the label of "alien" situates persons as "outside of 'We the people' and therefore places them by definition as outsiders.6 Typically, under western immigration systems, those deemed worthy of membership are classified as legal aliens or immigrants, who in turn are allowed the right to convert their status to full participants within the society, known as naturalized citizens. The naturalized citizens are contrasted, in immigration parlance, with those that are deemed to have entered the nation-state illegally; in other words individuals who arrive in ways that are inconsistent with the means deemed appropriate by the nation-state are deemed to be illegal aliens. For all intents and purposes, illegal aliens, exist in the shadows of the society with virtually no political presence or rights. In fact, the label of illegal alien alone justifies the disregard of any pretense of rights that should be afforded to "legal" members of society. For instance, in explaining why Haitians in the early 1990s were repatriated to their homeland without any judicial or administrative process, in apparent violation of international law, President George H. Bush declared that these individual were not refugees but "illegals."7 All too often, unfortunately for those groups in need or desire of entry, the distinctions between the appropriate and inappropriate methods of entry do not appear to be based upon sound moral or legal grounds or justifications.
Immigration and the Allure of Inclusion
, 35 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1349
Available at: https://ecollections.law.fiu.edu/faculty_publications/309