Inclusive Language Series: Undocumented

What does the term “undocumented” mean? Immigrants Rising simply defines the term “undocumented” as all immigrants who reside in the United States without legal status. “Undocumented” is an overarching term that may include the following individuals: Entered without Inspection (EWI), entered with legal status but overstayed, have or previously had Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), are currently in the process of legalizing, vulnerable immigrants. More information about these individual statuses can be found here.

In the United States court system and in politics, individuals who are undocumented are often called Illegal Aliens or Illegal Immigrants. Both terms are dehumanizing to individuals, and this is why the term “undocumented” is often used instead or considered more inclusive. Undocumented individuals can come from a variety of places. If you find yourself associating a certain racial community with being undocumented, please challenge your perception to avoid stereotyping.

There are many reasons why a person may be undocumented, so it is important not to assume that the experiences of all undocumented people are the same. Some undocumented folks may have fled their country due to insecurity and violence, while others may have been here their entire life. Others often do not know they are undocumented until later, when they need to apply for certain things like financial aid and in some states like Wisconsin, a driver’s license. Some may ask why individuals who are undocumented don’t go through the “regular channels” to receive legal documentation but the reality is, there are no “regular channels” for immigrants who are undocumented because the pathway to citizenship does not look the same for all who are undocumented.

Resources and More Information:

Resources for Undocumented Students at UW-Madison: Identity at Work – SuccessWorks – UW–Madison (

Documentaries that highlight Undocumented experiences: Immigrants-Rising_Movies-Highlighting-Undocumented-Experience.pdf (

Upcoming Holidays & Observances

  • March 22nd-April 21st: Ramadan: an Islamic holiday marked by fasting, praise, prayer, and devotion to Islam
  • April 5-13: Passover: an eight day Jewish holiday in commemoration of the emancipation of the Israelites from Slavery in ancient Egypt.
  • April 14: The Day of Silence: During which students take a daylong vow of silence to protest the actual silencing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+)students and their straight allies due to bias and harassment.
  • April 14: Vaisakhi: (also known as Baisakhi):the celebration of the founding of the Sikh community as the Khalsa (community of the initiated) and the birth of the Khalsa.
  • April 16: Orthodox Easter: (also called Pascha) a later Easter date than what is observed by many Western churches.