Associated Press Drops Term 'Illegal Immigrant'

News agency's style guide bans term
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2013 4:14 PM CDT
Associated Press Drops Term 'Illegal Immigrant'
   (Associated Press)

From now on, the Associated Press will no longer refer to people living in the country illegally as "illegal immigrants" or "illegals," notes the JimRomenesko blog. The term "illegal immigration" remains in play because, in that case, the word illegal describes an action and not a person, executive editor Kathleen Carroll explains in an AP blog entry. (By the same logic, the AP recently tweaked its style to avoid the term "schizophrenic." Instead, reporters are to write of a person diagnosed with schizophrenia.)

The new AP entry:

  • illegal immigration Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission.
The New York Times continues to use the term "illegal immigrant," but public editor Margaret Sullivan writes that a style revision is coming soon. She doesn't think the newspaper will ban the term outright, but an editor tells her the change will result in "more nuance and options" for reporters. (Read more Associated Press stories.)

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