Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

AP bans phrase "Illegal immigrant"

AP bans phrase "Illegal immigrant"

OK, everybody calmed down from that day when the ghost of Cesar Chavez strangled the Easter bunny on Google, or something? Good. So here's some new information for you: The Associated Press has decided to bar the use of the term "illegal immigrant":

A number of people felt that “illegal immigrant” was the best choice at the time. They also believed the always-evolving English language might soon yield a different choice and we should stay in the conversation.

Also, we had in other areas been ridding the Stylebook of labels. The new section on mental health issues argues for using credibly sourced diagnoses instead of labels. Saying someone was “diagnosed with schizophrenia” instead of schizophrenic, for example.

And that discussion about labeling people, instead of behavior, led us back to “illegal immigrant” again.

We concluded that to be consistent, we needed to change our guidance.

So we have.

Is this the best way to describe someone in a country without permission? We believe that it is for now. We also believe more evolution is likely down the road.

Excellent decision. I stopped using the term a long time ago -- here at Attytood the preferred style is "undocumented immigrant." For one thing, you've broken no law until you've been charged and had a hearing. Second, and more importantly, it's a dehumanizing term that has been of no help in bringing the debate to where it belongs -- to dealing with the consequences of human beingse who are already here, especially millions of people who were brought here as children, with no input of their own. That debate finally seems to be moving in the right direction -- and so is the Associated Press.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

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Will Bunch
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