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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid