"Illegal alien" Halloween costume is scary

Halloween is a time when people go a little crazy with the costumes.

We can expect to see some tasteless costumes this year of Michael Jackson and Nadya Suleman, also known as the Octomom.

But a costume that was selling at Target, Toys "R" Us, Amazon and other places has some immigrant advocates really upset.


It's a costume of an "illegal alien." It includes an outer space alien mask and a orange prison jumpsuit.

I don't understand why some people think this is funny. I agree with Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles that complained to Target that it's offensive.

Since the complaints surfaced last week, Target has stopped selling the costumes. And it's off the Toys "R" Us website and shown as unavailable on Amazon.

But there's also another costume out there called the "Sexy Illegal Alien" selling on Zoogster Costumes. It includes a metallic mini dress with a poncho trimmed with pom-pom fringe, matching sombrero, handcuffs and alien sunglasses. And on Amazon I found an illegal alien latex mask for sale. It features alien eyes and an exaggerated moustache.

Costumes like these are just as offensive as one of a Sambo or a Chinaman. We should move beyond making fun of those images that exploit cultural stereotypes. To exploit these images is racist.
Some people don't understand what's inherently offensive about the phrase "illegal alien." I only use it in this post  in quotation marks to explain why it's offensive.

First of all, human beings are not aliens. The phrase itself derives from a government label.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists has asked news organizations to not use the term or make a noun out of "illegals" and to instead use "undocumented immigrants."

"It casts them as adverse, strange beings, inhuman outsiders who come to the U.S. with questionable motivations. Aliens is a bureaucratic term that should be avoided unless used in a quote," according to the NAHJ web site.

The Associated Press style book, followed by almost all news organizations in the United States, advises news organizations that media should use "illegal immigrant" instead of "illegal alien" or "undocumented worker."

Still groups like NAHJ say even illegal immigrant is offensive and recommend using undocumented immigrant instead.

We can debate word usage here but one thing is certain.

It's disturbing that someone would make fun of people who immigrate to the United States and who are undocumented.

That anybody would make or buy this Halloween costume is truly scary.


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  • "It's disturbing that someone would make fun of people who immigrate to the United States and who are undocumented."

    No it is disturbing that people actually think it is ok to come here illegally! That people really think we should 'PC' it up and change the wording because it offends the ones who are what they are. It is disturbing that I have to press 1 for English in a country that required all other immigrants to speak and read English, but now because of one group we have to change because they don't want to conform to our culture. The insult is your race for belittling Americans. All other nationalities conform to the American culture, why can you?

  • In reply to antuck:

    "All other nationalities conform to the American culture, why can you?"

    Wow, that's not only wrong but it's sad that you'd want that. The beauty of American culture is that it's diverse and blends all cultures.

    How sad for you that you're disturbed because you have to press "1" on a phone.

  • In reply to antuck:

    I'd wear the "Sexy Illegal Alien" costume... I just think it's cute. But if we are talking about immigration, I prefer the term Undocumented Immigrant. Sometimes you have to make fun of these issues.

  • In reply to antuck:

    I don't know whats worse, the people that make these costumes or the people that buy them.

    Another one from a few years ago that's pretty awful: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00181DB10

  • In reply to antuck:

    Millions of kids will dress as bums this Halloween.. something they have been doing for as long as I can recall. Where is the outrage? This is just another hypocritical knee-jerk reaction we come to expect from columnists.

  • In reply to antuck:

    A costume as a prop of humor is not so bad when compared to what airs on Spanish TV. To think of illegals in this country breaking laws, but for this to be their catering?? please speak out about this! I could not believe my eyes/ears when we saw this. A friend taped it and we got it translated. Some find it funny, some find it offensive, most find it HORRIBLE. It is sad we have
    this kind of material on our airwaves.


    or on YouTube search for TELMEXUVISION

  • In reply to antuck:

    Dudes. Not all illegal aliens are Spanish speaking. This is not about you and your insecurity as a polyglot. Don't tell anyone but I think I once harbored an illegal Canadian! For three months! There was a little bit of a language barrier, as sometimes I didn't understand what she was talking aboot.
    But, come on, I've always thought the term illegal alien was weird maybe even funny. If you had asked me what "illegal alien" meant when I was 10, I would probably have described something like this. To me, it's not the issue that's funny, it's the duality of the concept. This costume is not a political statement -- it is just a pun. Montie wants to know why we need to make fun of these issues: well, maybe once people realize how stupid the concept of an illegal alien is, they'll get over their ingrained programming to hate them.

  • In reply to antuck:

    I think this whole "this costume is offensive" has been blown waaay out of proportion -- it's a silly *costume.* And it's of a *space* alien. Sure, the makers are mixing metaphors, but I think if we want to fight for something, fighting ridiculous (and not all that funny or creative) costumes is a waste of time, blogspace, and energy.

  • In reply to antuck:

    Awwww.... Pobrecitos.

  • In reply to antuck:

    Let's see, obvious other-wordly mask accompianied by an orange jumpsuit with ILLEGAL ALIEN written on the chest. Hmmm, sort of funny, we all get it and it has no reference to any Earthly ethnic group yet you have a problem with this.

    "First of all, human beings are not aliens. The phrase itself derives from a government label."

    From Merriam-Webster:


    1 a : belonging or relating to another person, place, or thing : strange b : relating, belonging, or owing allegiance to another country or government : foreign c : exotic

    So as you can see, aliens can be human beings. Perhaps you should take some time to gain a little command of the English language before spewing out your ignorant, childish blogs Ms.Puente.

  • In reply to antuck:

    What a bunch of ridiculous hooey! Time to say "have fun, it's halloween! Get rid of the political pigwash, especially when its formulated by those who think being in this country illegally is ok. I don't care what your national derivative is, if you aren't here legally then you should not be here. And allow the rest of us to dress in the costume of choice. Shame on Target for giving in to the illegals...good grief, they are ILLEGAL! What is it that people don't get about that??????

  • In reply to antuck:

    It is O.K. for Halloween to make fun of death and dismemberment,but not illegal aliens?

  • I think it's important to keep the word "illegal." While I understand your argument that the word "alien" de-humanizes people, I do not support using "undocumented worker," or the like, I think it should contain the word "illegal" if it is, or if they are here illegally-- and as someone else points out, "alien" means from another place, not belonging. I have family and friends who have immigrated to the US (from all over, including many from Mexico, others from Ireland, South America, Poland, etc...), they did it the right way, and it's a slap in their face to have people jumping the law and not having to go through the process like they did.

    I also do not find that costume offensive-- I see it as making fun of the TERM, it's satirical.

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