And undocumented worker is a person who is working illegally in the United States, generally because they tiptoed into the country behind the government’s back and got a job without applying for citizenship or a visa. Sound familiar?
If you pay attention to U.S. politics (which, hey, we’re all for paying attention to things, but we’d kind of forgive you in this case if you didn’t), you may have noticed that Republicans are more likely to call the people described above “illegals,” while Democrats are more likely to call them “undocumented workers.” Just an observation.
You already know why it’s not cool to call a person “an illegal,” but “undocumented worker” kind of doesn’t cut it, either. It sounds like someone who forgot to initial pages eight and seventeen of their tax forms or something — not someone who could get deported or go to jail for breaking immigration laws.
If you’re hoping for a neutral term to take the place of these loaded ones, you won’t find it here. Sometimes you need more than one or two words to describe people and what they do.