Undocumented or illegal? Why both sides in the immigration fight want you to ...

As the administration wages a battle against MS-13 gang members who the president refers to as 'animals,' another language debate wages on: What to call the estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the country illegally?

'Illegal immigrant' is the preferred language of the anti-immigration right, while 'undocumented' is the nomenclature used by the pro-immigrant left.  

'There are rhetorical tricks that the left and the right use,' said Wendy Feliz, communications director for the pro-immigration American Immigration Council in Washington D.C. 'They're used strategically by both sides to engage a specific response.'

Ultimately, Americans are overwhelmingly more likely to use the term 'illegal' rather than 'undocumented' when seeking information about immigration, according to Google trends data.

Key historic dates in U.S. immigration law

1882 - The first significant law restricting immigration into the U.S. was The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned entry to people from that country. 

1917 - The Asiatic Barred Zone Act further restricted immigration from all of Asia, as well as entry to any prostitutes, polygamists, anarchists and people with contagious diseases.

1924 - The 1924 Immigration Act established caps on how many people could enter the U.S. based on country of origin, giving significant preference to people from northern and western Europe. 

1965 - The Hart-Celler Immigration Act was passed, ordering that the U.S. cannot issue more than 7 percent of the total allowable visas to one nation – which predominately had an effect on Mexican and Latin American immigration.

 Source: History.com

A state-by-state breakout of Google searches shows that the term 'illegal immigrants' was used significantly more often than the alternative over the past 12 months. The phrase dominated Google results in every single state. 

'Undocumented immigrants' accounted for none of the searches in a handful of states, including Montana, Vermont, Alaska, Wyoming, West Virginia, North Dakota and South Dakota.

While 'illegal immigrants' was more common, 'undocumented' was gaining ground in some states, accounting for 26 percent of related searches in New York, 25 percent in New Mexico and 24 percent in Illinois.

Both terms are fraught with political meaning, and people both sides of the aisle have strong opinions about which one is

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