A little row at Ohio State University, which Cockburn would like to document, if he may. Victor Espinosa, a lecturer in sociology at Ohio State University, has been telling students that they are forbidden from using the term ‘illegal immigrant’ to describe immigrants who did not enter the country through the legal method. Because – drum roll – it is offensive.

Mr Espinosa has written to at least one student telling them they ‘will not be allowed to use the term illegal to refer to an unauthorized immigrant’ because it ‘dehumanizes, marginalizes and racializes the people it seeks to describe.’

In his wisdom and generosity, Espinosa grants that students may use the term illegal immigration – ‘since it describes a social process’ – but ‘you will not be allowed to use the term illegal to refer to a human being. Starting next week, any assignment or discussion post that uses the word “illegal immigrant” to refer to an unauthorized will not be accepted.’

Cockburn wonders: isn’t ‘unauthorized’ a more dehumanizing word than ‘illegal’? Anyway, the full message to one of his students, Hannah Emerson, is reprinted below. Readers can judge for themselves.

‘Hi Hannah,

‘Welcome to the class! Very interesting post. In your post you used the term “illegal immigrants”. You should know that in this class, students will not be allowed to use the word “illegal” to refer to an unauthorized immigrant. The use of the term “illegal” by politicians and news media outlets to refer to an unauthorized immigrant, not only criminalizes undocumented workers, but it also dehumanizes, marginalizes, and racializes the people it seeks to describe.

‘In this class you can use the term illegal immigration, which describes a social process, but you will not be allowed to use the word “illegal” to refer to a human being. Starting next week, any assignment or discussion post that uses the word “illegal immigrant” to refer to an unauthorized immigrant will not be accepted.

‘Please see me in my office or send me an email if you have any questions about the organization of the class or assignment guidelines.

‘Thanks for taking this class!

‘Victor Espinosa’