Words matter

This Latina journalist delivered a fiery takedown of a Trump adviser who called people ‘illegals’

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The head of Donald Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council, Steve Cortes, once referred to his chosen candidate as “a combination of a Weeble and LeBron James.” But even he should know better than to call a person “illegal.”

Journalist Maria Hinojosa attempted to educate Cortes on the subject during a Saturday morning appearance by the two on MSNBC’s AM Joy.

Hinojosa, who hosts National Public Radio’s Latino USA, reacted immediately when Cortes said that it was unfair to documented immigrants to “allow for illegals to hop in front of them and cheat the system.”

“‘Illegals’ is not a noun.” Hinojosa said. “What you can do is say an immigrant living illegally or an immigrant living without papers or without documents in this country. But what you cannot do is to label the person illegal.”

Even taking into account the deserved backlash against the term “illegal immigrant,” straight-up calling someone an “illegal” has never been OK, as Hinojosa went on to explain with a bit of a history lesson.

“I learned it from Elie Wiesel, who survived the Holocaust, who said, ‘You know what? The first thing they did was that they declared the Jews to be an illegal people,'” Hinojosa said.

Hinojosa had more to say on the topic on Twitter after a user questioned her invocation of Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who died in July.