What does Undocumented immigrant mean?
An undocumented immigrant is the term for a person residing in the United States without legal immigration status. Critics of this term note that the word "immigrant" generally means the person has permanent legal resident status, which seems to be in conflict with the term "undocumented" immigrant. These critics would argue the more appropriate term would be illegal alien or undocumented alien, and the use of the term immigrant is incorrect.
The term undocumented immigrant has gained more traction from policy makers who support open borders or the non-regulation of foreigners entering into and assuming residence in the U.S. But many consider this incorrect because the term "immigrant" gives the impression that the individual has entered the United States legally, which is often not correct. Proponents of other terms argue the use of the term immigrant can deflect the discussion from the issue that the person entered a country illegally and has broken the law. Critics also argue the term tends to create the belief that undocumented immigrants have the right to health care, social security and in some cases in state tuition at our colleges and universities.