News / USA

AP Rids Stylebook of 'Illegal' Immigrants

Undocumented people wait to fill out application forms for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on August 15, 2012 at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois.
Undocumented people wait to fill out application forms for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on August 15, 2012 at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois.
The Associated Press Stylebook is officially changing the way it calls people living in a country illegally, an amendment celebrated by pro-immigration activists.

The guide used by media outlets around the world no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or use of “illegal” to describe a person, according to a blog post published on the AP’s website Tuesday.

It instead recommends editorial staff use the word “illegal” to describe an unlawful action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.

Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explained the decision evolved from wide-ranging discussions that included ardent supporters of the phrase “illegal immigrant.”

Ultimately, she said, the Stylebook removed the phrase “illegal immigrant” as part of a larger effort to describe people specifically by their actions, rather than with labels.

“And that discussion about labeling people, instead of behavior, led us back to ‘illegal immigrant’ again,” Caroll wrote on the AP’s blog. “We concluded that to be consistent, we needed to change our guidance. So we have.”

She acknowledged language and phrasing likely will evolve in the future, and that this will frustrate some journalists. But for now, she said, the AP believes “this is the best way to describe someone in a country without permission.”

“Will the new guidance make it harder for writers? Perhaps just a bit at first. But while labels may be more facile, they are not accurate,” she said.

Jose Antonio Vargas, a Philippine-born journalist living in the United States without the proper legal documentation, celebrated the change.

"Long overdue but welcome nonetheless," he wrote on his Facebook page. “No human being is illegal.”

Vargas is a former Washington Post reporter who now runs the immigrant advocacy group Define America. His Facebook post received hundreds of endorsements.

“The point is, illegal behavior doesn't make a person illegal,” wrote immigration lawyer Jessica Jenkins. “We don't call people "illegal" when they rob banks or fail to pay taxes, why should we here? It doesn't even make sense grammatically.”

The language used to describe the 11 million people living without legal permission in the U.S. has long stirred controversy. Last week, Don Young, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, apologized for describing Latino workers as “wetbacks,” a derogatory term once commonly used to describe Mexicans who entered the U.S. by wading across the Rio Grande River.

Foreigners living illegally in the U.S. also are often referred to as aliens, a word Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies tweeted is apt.
The AP Styleguide is considered the ultimate reference book for journalists and, as a result, influences the language read and often used by millions of people.

Other major news outlets, including the Voice of America, are now deliberating whether they should follow the AP’s lead and stop calling people “illegal.”

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid