(Correction made at 3:30 p.m., Jan. 3 to reflect that Society of Professional Journalists’ Diversity Committee does not favor AP switch) Some are roiled by the Associated Press calling illegal immigrants … illegal immigrants. Latina Lista, for example, is upset that a students body president who is an illegal was called an “illegal immigrant.” read There’s an interesting news debate on that here
“Illegal immigrant” is not an offensive term. If I were living illegally in a foreign country, I would be an “illegal immigrant.” And so are people who live in the U.S. illegally. Calling someone “undocumented immigrant” satisfies a desire for political correctness.
But it’s a political correctness that is unfortunately catching. I notice more newspapers causing their headline writers pain by insisting on “undocumented immigrant.” (Even the Standard-Examiner incorrectly used it recently) Both the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News make it part of their style to use the clumsy, PC term. I suspect that the DesNews uses the term not so much for PC but because Mormon Church leaders, conscious of the church’s relationship with the Hispanic world, don’t want the headache of protests from ideologues.
But either reason is silly. Illegal immigrant is what a person living in a nation illegally is. I personally would like to see Congress come up with a solution where the vast majority of illegal immigrants can become U.S. citizens. And then we call them residents or citizens, and not “documented immigrants.”
To read an American Journalism Review article on the issue, click here