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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid