Why do we keep calling illegal immigrants 'undocumented' in Mollie Tibbetts murder and other crimes?

Cristhian Rivera, who entered America illegally from his native Mexico, is charged with first-degree murder in the brutal killing of college student Mollie Tibbetts in Iowa. Yet few news organizations call him an illegal alien or an illegal immigrant. They either call him “undocumented” or avoid drawing attention to his illegal status.

The terms “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien” are considered too harsh and too politically incorrect by the mainstream media arbiters of good taste.

“Undocumented” is so much more polite. It makes it sound like a man stopped by police simply left his driver’s license in another pair of pants at home, or a woman traveling lost her passport when her purse was stolen.

No, don’t say these folks are illegal entrants at all – just say they don’t have their documents handy.

This is absurd and seeks to minimize the fact that people are breaking the law every day by entering the U.S. from Mexico and elsewhere without authorization. And many have documents – as Rivera did – but the documents are fake or stolen.

As The Washington Post reported Wednesday: “Yarrabee Farms manager Dane Lang said Rivera provided a state-issued photo identification and a Social Security card when he applied for a job nearly four years ago. But those documents were false, Lang said. … Lang would not disclose the name that Rivera used to get a job.” Rivera spent four years working at the dairy farm under his false identity, authorities said.

And just before news of the 20-year-old Tibbetts' tragic death, the story of a man arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in California while driving his pregnant wife to the hospital to give birth made headlines with the same coddling euphemism: "undocumented immigrant."

What wasn’t originally reported was that the federal laws enforcement officers arrested Joel Arrona-Lara on a homicide charge based on a warrant from his native Mexico. He is suspected of involvement in the beating death of a man in Mexico in 2006 – which, by remarkable coincidence, the same year his wife “stated she and her husband arrived in the United States from Leon (in Mexico) without proper documentation,” CBS reported.

In the Tibbetts killing, as with the Arrona-Lara incident, priority has been to preserve the hagiographic portrait of minorities, legal and "undocumented."

As the son of Mexican immigrants, let me be the first to say this is unnecessary, condescending and paternalistic. Maintaining the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants – especially criminal aliens – is vital.

Grouping me with the likes of Rivera and Arrona-Lara, both illegal immigrants and alleged murderers, is unfair and deceitful, even if it happens to appeal to some people’s politically correct sensibilities.

Indeed, placing legal immigrants and illegal aliens – even criminals – in the same column based on minority status alone has become a loathsome cornerstone of progressive policy. It's not hard to see how this is counterproductive.

Well-intentioned though it may be, the reality is that progressives are cultivating – rather than discouraging – animus for law-abiding immigrants, because the lines between the lawful and the unlawful have been blotted out.

In this manner, Rivera and Arrona-Lara are considered as worthy as World War II hero Pedro Cano, the recipient of two Bronze Star medals, a Purple Heart, and the Medal of Honor. How is corralling the sheep in with the wolves helpful?

Here is something progressives need to accept, if they do not want to do more harm than good: some noncitizens, like some citizens, deserve no sympathy and no mercy. When one person robs another of life by committing a murder, he dehumanizes himself in the process.

Do progressives really want to treat murder suspects as just “undocumented immigrants?” Do they want to make accused killers martyrs in the immigration debate?

When my father came to the United States in the 1950s as an authorized worker from Mexico, he did so because he admired this country and believed that he could make it on his own volition. Most of all, he believed that America might provide his children with more security than they would have in Mexico.

My father’s hometown of Apatzingán, Michoacán, is an impoverished area blighted by civil unrest. Apatzingán made international headlines in 2013 when a member of the state Legislature was hacked to death "with a machete while he was being interviewed by a journalist."

My father knew this sort of violence intimately. Three of his five brothers were murdered in Mexico. Little did he know that one day, the perpetrators of similar horrific violence (now being imported into his adopted homeland) would be lionized, while their innocent victims would recede into the background – mere footnotes or irrelevant details in the progressive narrative.

But it is the natural consequence of the current progressive agenda that prizes clever euphemisms and Orwellian doublespeak over truth-telling and harsh realities.

Thus, the Mexican victim of Arrona-Lara, along with Mollie Tibbets, have become casualties in the progressive war both on truth and the rule of law – sacrificial offerings to the cult of victimhood.