Language Guidelines: Glossary and Proper Uses
Most likely, you’ve been hearing a lot of terminology in the news that may have you confused. It was important for us to provide you with the following glossary so that when you hear these words, you know what they really mean.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
“A kind of administrative relief from deportation. The purpose of DACA is to protect eligible immigrant youth who came to the United States when they were children from deportation. DACA gives young undocumented immigrants: 1) protection from deportation, and 2) a work permit. The program expires after two years, subject to renewal.”
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
The Immigration and Nationality Act, or INA, was created in 1952. Before the INA, a variety of statutes governed immigration law, but were not organized in one location. The McCarran-Walter bill of 1952, Public Law No. 82-414, collected and codified many existing provisions and reorganized the structure of immigration law. The Act has been amended many times over the years, but is still the basic body of immigration law.
The INA is divided into titles, chapters, and sections. Although it stands alone as a body of law, the Act is also contained in the United States Code (U.S.C.). The code is a collection of all the laws of the United States. It is arranged in 50 subject titles by general alphabetic order. Title 8 of the U.S. Code is but one of the 50 titles and deals with “Aliens and Nationality.”
A Muslim ban does not just constitute as a ban on allowing Muslims to enter the United States, but would also mean an increase on Muslim community surveillance, mass surveillance and other unconstitutional groundings.
When browsing the INA or other statutes, you will often see reference to the U.S. Code citation. For example, Section 208 of the INA deals with asylum, and is also contained in 8 U.S.C. 1158. Although it is correct to refer to a specific section by either its INA citation or its U.S. code, the INA citation is more commonly used.
Originally coined in a 1991 Runnymede Trust report, this term is defined as an “unfounded hostility towards Muslims, therefore creating hate or fear towards most Muslims.”
Examples of Islamophobic beliefs are the belief that Muslims are monolithic, unyielding to the beliefs of others and not able to adapt to changes; belief that Muslims are inferior and are incapable of sharing common values with Western society; the belief that Muslims are violent and want to spread terrorism in the West; the belief that Muslims want to replace the Constitution with sharia law in the United States, despite the fact that Muslims are beholden to the “laws of the land”; the belief that Islam is not a religion, but a violent political ideology.
Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, Mike Flynn, has in fact gone on record by calling Islam a “cancer” and has stated, “We’ve got to stop feeling the slightest bit guilty about calling them by name and identifying them as fanatical killers acting on behalf of a failed civilization.”
This statement alone is an example of Islamophobic rhetoric, as Flynn is unable to distinguish actual Islam (that denounces the actions of these violent groups) from violent groups claiming Islam as their religion.
Often misused, this term has been quoted by the media, the public and groups who wish to taint the original meaning, defining it as “holy war.” In fact, Jihad actually means “struggling” or “striving.” Its original intent was not violent, nor was it a means to declare war against other religions. Jihad is not a single concept, which can make it a bit tricky for non-Arabic speakers or non-Muslims to understand.
The problem with this word is that it continues to be defined by people and groups who do not understand it, or rather, have decided to redefine it for their own agenda.
There are two parts: Internal and external. Internally, Jihad is the action to make changes to oneself—to better oneself. It is the internal struggle to pick good over evil. Externally, Jihad is used in upholding justice. This is where it gets tricky. Jihad can be used to defend and uphold justice, but within the limits prescribed by Islam, i.e., defensive warfare in the event that you are being attacked. There are strict guidelines as well. For example, one must not harm civilians, children, women, or infrastructure. The problem with this word is that it continues to be defined by people and groups who do not understand it, or rather, have decided to redefine it for their own agenda.
Muslim Ban/Extreme Vetting
Donald Trump and his cabinet have been known to use the two terms interchangeably. A Muslim ban does not just constitute as a ban on allowing Muslims to enter the United States, but would also mean an increase on Muslim community surveillance, mass surveillance and other unconstitutional groundings.
Trump has explained extreme vetting to be a process that establishes whether applicants are similar to the U.S. values on human dignity, LGBTQIA+ rights, gender equality, religious freedoms, etc. Trump has repeatedly said that the process under Obama’s administration was not tough enough, but refugees experiencing entry in the U.S. could say otherwise according to this process outline that could sometimes take years to be completed.
National Security Entrance-Exit Registration Program (NSEERS)
NSEERS, sometimes referred to as “Special Registration,” was a Bush-era “Muslim registry” enacted after Sept. 11, 2001. Critics lauded the program as a failure both ethically and strategically: It disproportionately targeted Arabs and Muslims, and failed to yield a single terrorism-related conviction.
The program required non-citizens to register and be interrogated, fingerprinted, and photographed. It required those visiting the U.S. and those already here to check in with immigration authorities regularly. Lastly, it monitored those exiting the country to ensure that temporary visitors didn’t stay illegally. Those who violated were subject to arrest, fines, and/or deportation.
Out of the 25 countries on the list required to register, all were Muslim-majority countries, except for North Korea. A 2012 report revealed that the program monitored more than 80,000 males, and resulted in deportation proceedings for minor violations for more than 13,000 of them. This destroyed lives and families in the process. The program ignored credible data showing that most terror attacks on U.S. soil are carried out by American citizens. It was suspended in 2011 by the Obama administration, and eventually completely dismantled in Obama’s final days in office.
Initially coined by scholar, Emmanuel Sivan, in his book “Radical Islam,” about jihadists, the term used to be academically acceptable in the sense of educational research.
After Sept. 11, the phrase became a “buzzword” that was often used as a catch-all term that failed to distinguish Muslims across the globe who practice Islam from those who are involved in extremist groups that hijacked the religion for their own political agendas.
The term perpetuates this fear that all Muslims are at war with Christians and other non-Muslims.
When placing the word “radical” in front of “Islam,” non-Muslims stop differentiating between “Islam” and “radical Islam,” thus conflating them as one and the same. The term perpetuates this fear that all Muslims are at war with Christians and other non-Muslims. Former President Obama refused to use this term because he recognized the extent of its impact on Muslims, as it allowed Islamophobia to grow and spread.
The phrase itself is also an oxymoron, as the religion actually prohibits extremism in any form. The Prophet denounced extremism, saying, “Ruined are the extremists,” and “Aim for what is right, stick to the moderate way.” The Quran also speaks about moderation, justice, and balance, multiple times.
Secure Communities Act (S-Comm)
Secure Communities (S-Comm)—a federal immigration-enforcement program being implemented by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—has become the subject of a nationwide controversy. In jurisdictions where S-Comm has been activated, any time an individual is arrested and booked into a local jail for any reason, his or her fingerprints are electronically run through ICE’s immigration database. This allows ICE to identify non-citizens—including lawful immigrants and permanent residents—and potentially to initiate deportation proceedings against them.
Because it targets people at the time of arrest, S-Comm captures people who will never be charged with a state crime—including crime victims, witnesses, and individuals subjected to unconstitutional arrests. Local community members and officials across the country have raised concerns about S-Comm’s impacts on civil liberties, noting among other things that it 1) deters immigrants from reporting crimes and otherwise receiving equal protection of the laws; 2) creates the risk of unlawful detention without criminal charges or a hearing; and 3) invites racial profiling by state and local law enforcement.