[Ads-l] "illegal immigrant" as politically incorrect

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sat Nov 28 02:26:10 UTC 2015


A lot of people object to "illegal immigrant" and "illegal alien" and have been doing so for years. The AP dropped the terms from its Stylebook in 2013. The AP still uses "illegal immigration"; it just doesn't apply "illegal" to people.

Declaring people to be "illegal" has a very unsavory history that dates to 1940s Europe.



-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of James A. Landau
Sent: Friday, November 27, 2015 4:06 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: "illegal immigrant" as politically incorrect

I somehow got on the mailing list for a group called "DefineAmerican".  

This group has been trying to get people to stop using the term "illegal immigrant".  Specifically they have been targeting CNN. In their words:
<begin quote>

Ahead of tomorrow's Democratic debate on CNN, Define American is calling on the network to keep its promise of dropping the word “illegal,” because not only do #WordsMatter, but keeping your word matters too.

Within a day of launching our petition calling on CNN to stop using the term “illegal” to describe undocumented Americans, the network promised Define American and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists it would drop the word “illegal” and discontinue using the terms “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien” across its platforms. We declared this a victory.

However, less than 48 hours after promising to reissue its editorial guidelines prohibiting the use of the terms referencing the undocumented population as “illegal,” CNN debate moderator Jake Tapper used the term “illegal immigrant” in the September 16th Republican debate, and CNN host Ashleigh Banfield used the term multiple times on-air the next day. 

In addition, the network has refused to publicly confirm its promise to drop the inaccurate language - being in the U.S. without proper documents is a civil offense, not a criminal one. The use of “illegal immigrants” by Jake Tapper during CNN’s most-viewed broadcast in their history was hugely irresponsible - violating both CNN’s own rules and the pledge made to finally enforce those rules.
 
As I said on CNN just a few weeks ago, it’s not about being politically correct, it’s about being morally decent.
<end quote>

I have no idea how big or important DefineAmerican is, and I have not heard anyone else object to the term "illegal immigrant" (although the above text implies the National Association of Hispanic Journalists is also behind this campaign).

- James A. Landau


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