The Associated Press announced Tuesday it no longer approves of the term “illegal immigrant” in describing “people living in a country illegally.”
Many news organizations use the AP Stylebook, the industry standard for many writers, including those of us at BizPac Review.
The AP’s Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explained on the news service’s blog that it is trying to stop labeling “people” and label their “behavior” instead.
Let the game of semantics begin.
“The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term ‘illegal immigrant’ or the use of ‘illegal’ to describe a person,” Carroll wrote. “Instead, it tells users that ‘illegal’ should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.”
“Undocumented” is also not accepted “because it is not precise,” Carroll said, adding, “A person may have plenty of documents, just not the ones required for legal residence.”
The AP recently also made changes to its guidelines on describing mental illness. Writers should no longer say someone is “schizophrenic,” for example, but should say he or she was “diagnosed with schizophrenia.”
Carroll said discussions on dropping the term “illegal immigrant” have been ongoing. In AP’s desire to be consistent, stylebook changes needed to be made in how writers describe illegal immig – um, I mean a person who has entered the United States of America “without legal permission.”