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