Immigration activists are calling on retailers to stop selling a controversial “Illegal Alien” Halloween costume featured on the websites of Walgreens, Toys R Us, Target, Meijer, Amazon, and other retailers. It includes an orange prison jumpsuit with the words “Illegal Alien,” a fake “Green Card,” and an alien mask. The product description reads:
He didn’t just cross a border, he crossed a galaxy! He’s got his green card, but it’s from another planet! Sure to get some laughs, the Illegal Alien Adult Costume includes an orange prison-style jumpsuit with “Illegal Alien” printed on the front, an alien mask and a “green card.”
After receiving complaints about the costume, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles wrote a letter to retailers asking them to stop selling the item. Executive director Angelica Salas called it “distasteful, mean-spirited, and ignorant of social stigmas and current debate on immigration reform.” Target has complied and apologized, saying, “This was never intended to be part of our assortment. We are moving as quickly as possible to remove it from our Web site.” The costume is also no longer on the Toys R Us website.
This morning, however, the hosts of Fox and Friends couldn’t get enough of the costume. Steve Doocy exclaimed, “It’s a joke! Where’s your sense of humor America?” Brian Kilmeade called it “fantastic,” adding, “If you’re here illegally, go to your local police station and tell them how outraged you arebecause you’re an illegal alien and this costume offends you!” Watch it:
Yesterday on Univision, RNC Chairman Michael Steele defended the use of the term “illegal alien,” saying although you can “dress it up any way you want,” undocumented immigrants are still “here illegally”:
RAMOS: Why do you refer to undocumented immigrants as illegal aliens? I’ve spoken with John McCain and Barack Obama, to give you two examples, and they don’t use those terms they call them undocumented immigrants. Why do you call them illegal aliens?
STEELE: Well, if they are here illegally I got a call it what it is. I mean if you can be undocumented — look you can dress it up any way you want the reality of it is the status is the key feature here, and if the status is such that you did not come through the regular process, that you did not present yourself properly, to be documented then you are here illegally.
“Illegal alien” is a pejorative term that dehumanizes people. The National Hispanic Journalists Association has urged media organizations to stop using the phrase:
Many find the term offensive and dehumanizing because it criminalizes the person rather than the actual act of illegally entering or residing in the United States. The term does not give an accurate description of a person’s conditional U.S. status, but rather demeans an individual by describing them as an alien. At the 1994 Unity convention, the four minority journalism groups – NAHJ, Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association and National Association of Black Journalists – issued the following statement on this term: “Except in direct quotations, do not use the phrase illegal alien or the word alien, in copy or in headlines, to refer to citizens of a foreign country who have come to the U.S. with no documents to show that they are legally entitled to visit, work or live here. Such terms are considered pejorative not only by those to whom they are applied but by many people of the same ethnic and national backgrounds who are in the U.S. legally.“
Another offensive “Illegal Alien” costume on HalloweenExpress.com has an “Almond eyed” latex mask with a “large black mustache and baseball cap attached.”
CARLSON: This year’s Halloween costume controversy! Have you seen this one? Do you have your costume yet? Well, you might want to check out this. As you can see, it’s going to create quite a firestorm because it is an immigrant — an illegal immigrant — doesn’t it say that across the orange jumpsuit?
DOOCY: It’s a space alien!
CARLSON: Yeah, but it says “Illegal Immigrant” on the orange jumper and then it has a space alien head.
DOOCY: Yeah, but Gretchen, he didn’t just cross a border, he crossed a galaxy. That’s part of the promotional material. As you can see, wearing an orange jumpsuit, he’s got a green card.
CARLSON: He’s holding a green card? Oh my God.
KILMEADE: I think it’s fantastic but you just don’t even say “alien” anymore. You’re suppose to say “illegal alien” — uh I think “legally challenged”? What do we call them? “Snuck in?”
DOOCY: Angelica Salas for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles thinks that this is over the line and she has asked Target, the big retailer, to remove it from their website, and Target has said yes. Unfortunately, it sold, for her, it sold at all sorts of locations in the Internet and elsewhere. But do you really thing there’s anything the matter with that?
KILMEADE: Not really. I mean, illegal alien, they sneak in the country illegally.
DOOCY: It’s a joke! Where’s your sense of humor America?
KILMEADE: If you don’t like that you could also just buy the Madoff mask and keep the jumpsuit and just get rid of the “Illegal Alien.”
CARLSON: Do you remember how many people dressed up as Sarah Palin last year?
KILMEADE: Was that really?
CARLSON: Yeah it was making fun of somebody.
KILMEADE: Oh okay.
CARLSON: That was the number one costume, I bet you a gazillion dollars, last year that people did it because that was the top conversation. […]
KILMEADE: If you’re here illegally, go to your local police station and tell them how outraged you are because you’re an illegal alien and this costume offends you!
Andrea Nill notes that William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, has offered to appear on television and conduct interviews while wearing the costume in protest of the objections. He is also claiming that the “illegal alien” costumes have sold out thanks to his publicity, and he has listed his own costume on eBay in order to “raise awareness and funds to fight against illegal immigration and Amnesty for illegals.”