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Brainless Experts to the Rescue

In a recent post, we reported on a new guidance by the New York Commission on Human Rights that declared that use of the term "illegal alien" was a form of harassment and that offenders could be fined $250,000.  Former civil rights attorney Hans Bader noted that this is a clear violation of the First Amendment, and that the term is commonly used in both federal statutes and Supreme Court decisions.  In a story in the Chicago Tribune reporter Cindy Dampier went to an "expert," Professor Claire Thomas, director of the Asylum Clinic at New York Law School, to correct this fallacy, "....it's commonplace knowledge that the term 'illegal alien' is pejorative," she says, "and that a person who wants to spread hate in this city of immigrants will face consequences."  The "expert" also pointed out another common misconception: That the term supposedly is not used in statutes and in legal circles. "The term illegal alien isn't a term that comes up in our laws," she says, noting that it does appear very rarely in pieces of federal legislation. "However, the term 'alien' is in our statutes, and you will hear people referred to as 'the alien,' when you are representing them."  Apparently, Professor Thomas' expertise does not include an understanding of Title 8 of the United States Code at 8 USC 1365 and 8 USC 1611. "Illegal alien" is also found in other statutes, like 6 USC 240, 13 USC 141, and 18 USC App. 1201 to 1203. That's at least 5 federal statutes, not to mention state laws as well. She also must have missed its use in Supreme Court rulings, such as Arizona v. United States (2012). 

Update:  In response to being called out for misleading the public in its story about the use of the term illegal alien, the Chicago Tribune prominently reposted the story as reported here.

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