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Thursday, April 11, 2013

New entry on 'illegal immigration' | Associated Press Stylebook

I endorse the new entry in the Associated Press Stylebook on illegal immigration. It replaces AP's outdated entry on illegal immigrant.

AP announced the welcome change April 2 in an email message to people who subscribe to its online editorial style manual. 

Here's the new and improved AP terminology:
illegal immigration Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission.
Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented. ...
The new entry also tells reporters and editors to attribute the source of the information when describing people "as violating immigration laws." I hope journalists will interpret that advice to mean quoting reliable, official sources of information about a person's status, not just quoting anyone who's tossing out claims of illegal behavior.

AP also encourages journalists to do additional research in their reporting:
Specify wherever possible how someone entered the country illegally and from where. Crossed the border? Overstayed a visa? What nationality?
And it tells journalists to report accurately about children and people living in the United States temporarily: 
People who were brought into the country as children should not be described as having immigrated illegally. For people granted a temporary right to remain in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, use temporary resident status, with details on the program lower in the story.
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