It makes sense to provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who meet reasonable standards. That’s why we support comprehensive immigration reform which includes that practical stipulation.
It doesn’t make sense to stop calling illegal immigrants illegal immigrants.
Yet The Associated Press has done just that.
The wire service announced the change in a Tuesday blog. In that posting, AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll’s wrote that “ ‘illegal’ should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.”
She added that AP also has rejected “descriptions such as ‘undocumented,’ despite ardent support from some quarters, because it is not precise.”
So what should we call the folks that we have been calling illegal immigrants?
From the updated AP Stylebook:
“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. Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented.”
And: “People who were brought into the country as children should not be described as having immigrated illegally.”
Really? Even if they weren’t legally brought into the country?
The ever-rising modern tide of hypersensitivity, while obviously a powerful force, can’t negate this reality:
Man, woman or child, an immigrant is either in the United States legally or illegally.
Hence, he or she is either a legal immigrant or an illegal immigrant.
That’s not a slur.
That’s a fact.
And we still think the most precise way to describe a person is generally the best way in a newspaper, where extra words consume extra space.
The notion that “illegal immigrant” is an offensive term is at best silly, at worst an evasion of truth.
Sure, there are some offensive synonyms for “illegal immigrant.”
But “illegal immigrant” isn’t one of them.
As for those “acceptable variations” of “living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission,” thanks, but no thanks.
We’ll stick with “illegal immigrant” — and with our backing of a pathway to citizenship as a crucial element of immigration reform.