SPJ Urges End to “Illegal Alien,” “Illegal Immigrant”

From the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education:

“The Society of Professional Journalists, hearing an emotional plea from Rebecca Aguilar, a member of SPJ and of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, voted Tuesday to recommend that newsrooms discontinue using the terms “illegal alien” and “illegal immigrant.” The resolution from the 7,800-member organization says only courts can decide when a person has committed an illegal act… READ MORE

According to the report, “the Society of Professional Journalists convention of delegates, urges journalists and style guide editors to stop the use of illegal alien and encourage continuous discussion and re-evaluation of the use of illegal immigrant in news stories.”

It will be interesting to see if news outlets incorporate this change, and if so, what words will they use instead of “illegal immigrant.” Many, including political conservatives, refuse to use the word “undocumented” to define a person who has entered the United States of America illegally.

This issue has been debated for some time. NPR did a report titled “Which Is Acceptable: ‘Undocumented’ vs. ‘Illegal’ Immigrant?

“In the immigration debate, does the term undocumented mean anything different than the term illegal? Join host Michel Martin for a conversation about the terminology with syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette and Kevin Johnson, Dean of the law school at the University of California, Davis, and member of the Board of Directors for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, known as MALDEF.” LISTEN

When asked if there is a preference between the term “illegal immigrant” versus other terms like “undocumented,” “non-citizen,” syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette said he said the most correct word was “illegal immigrant” and added “…with regard to illegal versus undocumented, there are bigger fish to fry in this debate, and I think it is a waste of time.


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