News Column

AP Drops 'Illegal Immigrant' From Stylebook

April 3, 2013

Rebecca Villaneda--HispanicBusiness


The Associated Press announced that it will no longer use the term "illegal immigrant" in its style book.

"The AP Stylebook today is making some changes in how we describe people living in a country illegally," wrote Paul Colford on AP's blog.

The AP Stylebook is known as the "bible" to news reporters across the world.

AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll confirmed the news and explained the move.

"The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term 'illegal immigrant' or the use of 'illegal' to describe a person," she said. "Instead, it tells users that 'illegal' should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally."

In November 2012, HispanicBusiness spoke to Alex Nogales, CEO and president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) about the organization's mission to change negative perceptions about U.S. Hispanics. Part of the NHMC's goal was to stop media outlets from using the word "illegal" when referring to immigrants.

"When people hear the word 'illegal,' they immediately turn off and get a negative connotation. It's a very poor choice of words," Nogales said last year.

After hearing AP's decision to stop using the word "illegal," Nogales released this statement: "At a certain point, it lost any descriptive qualities and became nothing more than a slur used to dehumanize and degrade a very important part of our country.

"I'm pleased to see the word 'illegal' following the path of other slurs such as 'wetback' as words that are not acceptable to use in our discourse," he continued. "We hope that outlets that continue to use this word will follow the lead of the AP and do away with it in short order."

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