San Francisco Chronicle Stops Using Term "Illegal Immigrant"

Categories: Media

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Language frames discourse. Which is why liberals say "global warming" and "estate tax," and conservatives say "climate change" and "death tax." This sort of dichotomy has been most apparent in ongoing immigration debate, which has birthed a wide range of synonyms: "undocumented immigrant," "illegals," "illegal aliens," and, of course, the often default "illegal immigrant."

Last month, the Associated Press decided to stop using those loaded terms. Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll called the practice "a lazy device" that "ends up pigeonholing people or creating long descriptive titles where you use some main event in someone's life to become the modifier before their name."

This week, Poynter reported, the San Francisco Chronicle is following that lead. The paper's reporters will no longer refer to people using the term "illegal immigrant."

The Chronicle's style book -- mirroring the AP's entry on the subject -- now states: "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."

The same standard applies to "illegal alien," "an illegal," "illegals" or "undocumented immigrant."

Reporters are told to "specify wherever possible how someone entered the country illegally and from where. Crossed the border? Overstayed a visa? What nationality?" The updated style book notes that "acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission."

The Chron is somewhat of an early adapter of this practice among dailies. The original innovator was the San Antonio Express-News, which stopped using "illegal immigrant" in 2008, replacing it with "unauthorized" or "undocumented" immigrant. But the AP's April 2 announcement has spurred industry change. Eight days later, USA Today laid out its own version of the style change: "The term illegal immigration is acceptable, but do not label people as illegal immigrants, except in direct quotes," read a memo to staff, published by media critic Jim Romanesko. "Undocumented immigrant, undocumented worker and unauthorized immigrant are acceptable terms -- depending on accuracy, clarity and context -- for foreign nationals who are in the country illegally."

On April 23, the New York Times, while not prohibiting the term, told its reporters and editors to "consider alternatives when appropriate to explain the specific circumstances of the person in question, or to focus on actions." On May 1, the Los Angeles Times declared an AP-style ban on the term in order to "provide relevance and context and to avoid labels."



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8 comments
SFWhateverDude
SFWhateverDude

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT: Someone who knowingly enters a country without permission to do so, and/or one who is present in a country knowingly (or should have known) in violation of said country's immigration laws, yet fails to take actions to legalize their residency.

Terry C. Winckler
Terry C. Winckler

Actually, Erin, everybody prefers climate change becuse it more accurately describes what goes on...When folks gt hammerd by freakish cold, attribute to global warming, they arent likely to believe it...

davej.francis
davej.francis

IF THIS AMNESTY LAW PASSES (S.477), THEN WE MUST CRASH THE PHONES, FAX AND BOMBARD THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES NEXT TO STOP THIS DISGUSTING BILL.

Of all the immigration reform amendments that should have been passed by today, was to cut off welfare benefits to illegal aliens. This amendment by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas introduced this law. The Judicial Immigration committees amendment in stopping illegal aliens from getting any public benefits, but this was dismissed by a vote of mostly hard core Democrats who want taxpayers to pay these trillions of dollars. Public assistance is the giant magnet that is still going to attract millions of foreigners by this financial incentive to cross into America or fly here by plane.

Which Senators got paid- off by Special Interests for this lump of corruption, which is really a cloaked AMNESTY? THERE IS LITTLE SAFEGUARD IN THIS BILL FOR AMERICAN WORKERS.

REMEMBER HOW THESE SENATORS VOTED IN FUTURE ELECTIONS? WE MUST ACT NOW DECISIVELY, BY BOMBARDING THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE AFTER THE END OF THIS SENATE TRAVESTY.

Practically every respectable amendment has been sacrificed by the G8 immigration judicial committee by mostly Democratic Senators with less deliberation about the doctrines of the law and instead pandering to the special interests and moreover to accommodate to criminal illegal aliens and visa overstays. IN SUCH KEY CHANGES IN THE LAW, AMERICANS CITIZENS SHOULD DEMAND A NATIONAL REFERENDUM? TAXPAYERS ARE THE ONES WHO ARE ALREADY PAYING THE HUGE FISCAL BILLS, AMID MORE ENORMOUS TAXES TO COME.BUT AS A PATRIOTIC AMERICANS RECOGNIZE THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, OTHERWISE THE CORRUPTED PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON WOULD NOT HAVE THE CONTROL OVER US. IT’S JUST LIKE THROWING THE GENERAL TAXPAYERS UNDER THE BUS AGAIN, JUST AS IN 1986? There is not much difference in the new immigration reform bill, other than they don’t call it—AMNESTY.That’s a joke, if it wasn’t disgusting and outrageous as they still get to stay and live of us like the proverbial parasite, just like half this country does with this one sided tax code.

They have been duly warned? These Senators treat citizen voters, conservative and the millions of TEA PARTY activists like dirt and silently undermine our lives of our families. Most of the enforcement triggers discarded, including the renaissance of the 2006 Secure Fence Law. Don’t let this arrogance go unnoticed and throw out senators in both parties. I wonder how much money they got paid under the table, by corporations, union’s bosses and special interests lobbyists.A POX ON BOTH HOUSES!

JUST HEARD TODAY IF THIS IMMIGRATION LAW PASSES, ALL NEW LAWFULLY GIVEN STATUS WILL RECEIVE ENTITLEMENT BENEFITS.

As many citizens acknowledge that this Senators conference is a dark role playing theater production, as a big show for the people of the United States. Probably the amendments have been discussed within the shutters rooms where old men as Senator Chuck Schumer Sen. Leahy, (D) of N.Y., Sen. Richard Durbin (D) of Illinoisjudging what's best for our future? Not even considering that a huge proportion of Black, Hispanic, White, Latino, Asians need work, not competing with criminals aliens.Out of the few the only Senator who has shown that he is entitled to his pay and massive pension is Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.A mild mannered man and must be considered as courageous, going up against a brick wall of idealistic Senators who should be rocking on a front porch, whiling away the retirement days, thinking laughingly how they scammed the American taxpayer. Sen. Feinstein and the rest were more or less sarcastic, to Sessions reasonable amendments. Almost every amendment to the G8’s appalling immigration bill has been defeated, and each and every American voting patriot should ruthlessly reflect on both Democrats and Republicans who voted against Jeff Sessions amendments. Remember each Senators facial features clearly who rejected sensible amendments, to save taxpayers money, including the whimpering Senators who rejected Sessions ability to stop the illegal children tax credits of 7.4 billion dollars from honest applicants. With the primaries arriving soon, we must show these SOB who's in charge and vote them out of office. These Senators are a conniving lot who are as corrupt in some respects, as the dictators in foreign governments or that reside in Washington.

No more need be said about the illegal immigration reform fiasco, it’s all about gain, greed, money and Washington corruption? Never mind that the taxpayers bare the cost? When the country elects a bunch of mostly ex-lawyers, you can just guess the irreversible consequences? The Bard himselfWill Shakespeare had nothing nice to say about lawyers; in fact he hit the nail on the head for the most of them with his quotes? Having had contact with most of these professionals, you know they're going to drain you of every penny you have got? If the Senate. 477 bill passes then the U.S. Government is going to be coming to all of us, via the notorious IRS for more taxes. I have nothing more to say on this insipid subject, so its up to the American public to use the power of their vote. Just investigate and judge the cost and outcome for you and your family? Call your U.S. Representative toll-free --1-888-978-3094—and discover for yourselves the implications at NumbersUSA, American Patrol and Judicial Watch sites. Find the time to do some carefully scrutiny, as you will be the financial victims of this veiled amnesty.

I just learned that Apple computers and its affiliates paid literary no taxes. EVERYBODY SHOULD PAY TAXES. We must all demand a new tax code that nobody escapes, except when they die? NOBODY!

HEY! No Copyright. Copy & Paste and distribute freely.REMEMBER WHO DOOMED YOU IN FUTURE ELECTIONS.

Mitch Lopez
Mitch Lopez

I'm all for sensitivity toward others but this is ridiculous. Can we call them unauthorized residents? Or is that somehow racist?

janeandjohndoe
janeandjohndoe

I call people that violate Federal law on a daily basis "criminals", but I guess I'm old fashioned...

Joel Ede
Joel Ede

It's not just SF Chron. This was an AP style change.

Darryl Manco
Darryl Manco

What are they calling the? Directionally challenged. LOL! Seriously why did this even get covered?

mrericsir
mrericsir topcommenter

@janeandjohndoe Federal law includes the fourth amendment.  It's up to the courts to decide who's breaking the law, not you and not newspaper reporters.

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