There has been much argument from immigrant advocates that the terms “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien” are inappropriate terms to describe people who enter the United States without going through proper admission procedures. Often one will hear such advocates refer to the immigrants as “undocumented,” as even Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has stated. The term "undocumented has become ubiquitous in the media, as stories as recent as here, here, here, and here demonstrate.
So what term, exactly, does the U.S. code use to describe such immigrants, so that the strenuous arguments about proper terminology can be examined in light of the U.S. government’s official terminology?
Here’s the relevant part of the U.S. code:
Classes of deportable aliens Any alien (including an alien crewman) in and admitted to the United States shall, upon the order of the Attorney General, be removed if the alien is within one or more of the following classes of deportable aliens:
(1)Inadmissible at time of entry or of adjustment of status or violates status
(B)Present in violation of law
Any alien who is present in the United States in violation of this chapter or any other law of the United States, or whose nonimmigrant visa (or other documentation authorizing admission into the United States as a nonimmigrant) has been revoked under section 1201(i) of this title, is deportable.
(C)Violated nonimmigrant status or condition of entry
(i)Nonimmigrant status violators
Any alien who was admitted as a nonimmigrant and who has failed to maintain the nonimmigrant status in which the alien was admitted or to which it was changed under section 1258 of this title, or to comply with the conditions of any such status, is deportable.
(ii)Violators of conditions of entry
(D)Termination of conditional permanent residence
Any alien with permanent resident status on a conditional basis under section 1186a of this title (relating to conditional permanent resident status for certain alien spouses and sons and daughters) or under section 1186b of this title (relating to conditional permanent resident status for certain alien entrepreneurs, spouses, and children) who has had such status terminated under such respective section is deportable.