Illegal Immigrants Get A Description Makeover

Written by Marilyn Assenheim on April 4, 2013

MH900309617On a day when White House Senior Advisor, Mike Allen, complains that The Drudge Report has traction with pundits in the news game, Drudge reports that the Associated Press will no longer use the phrase “illegal immigrant.” Having jettisoned the phrase “illegal alien” light years ago, the AP has now declared that “illegal immigrant” is no longer to be included in their “Stylebook of Phrases.” They will instead offer less “judgmental” phrases. They haven’t yet come up with an attractive enough description but “living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission…” is being given serious consideration. Note that attention is being drawn away from the perpetrator of the offence and is being focused on the results, instead.

The AP’s stance is striking: “The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term ‘illegal immigrant’ or the use of ‘illegal’ to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that ‘illegal’ should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally…” Um. Okay. But doesn’t such “action “result when perpetrators enter and stay in America without authorization? Hasn’t an “illegal action” occurred under those circumstances? The Associated Press is not alone in their effort to reduce the negative tinge associated with…unauthorized entrants…to the United States. The efforts to make…unlawful residents…appear less off-putting has been a full-court press from television networks such as ABC, NBC and Univision. CNN, too. Newspapers, including the New York Times, college campuses across the country have been avoiding the phrase “illegal immigrant” for quite some time as well. They all agree that the phrase “illegal immigrant” is “dehumanizing” and “schizophrenic.” A huge, logic-driven raspberry for the former complaint; one couldn’t agree more, however, with the latter. The phrase is schizophrenic because, whatever you call them, they aren’t “immigrants.”

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Marilyn Assenheim
Marilyn Assenheim was born and raised in New York City. She spent a career in healthcare management although she probably should have been a casting director. Or a cowboy. A serious devotee of history and politics, Marilyn currently lives in the NYC metropolitan area.