Jose Antonio Vargas Challenges NYT and AP To Drop 'Illegal Immigrant'

While the campaign by Vargas will start with the Times and the AP, it will have a much broader scope overall. Using the Define American website, people across the country will be able to report instances where local print, radio and television news outlets are using "illegal immigrant."

"The people who read and consume the news in their own local communities should be calling out these news agencies," Vargas said in a phone interview. "It needs to be at that level."

The editorial policy here at ABC/Univision is to use "undocumented" when referring to people in the country without authorization. Of our parent newsrooms, Univision uses the Spanish word for undocumented, "indocumentado," while ABC News typically uses "undocumented immigrant" but hasn't strictly adhered to that in the past.

"Our goal and policy is to use the term undocumented immigrant or worker, but there have certainly been instances where we have fallen short of that standard," said Jeffrey Schneider, senior vice president of ABC News.

Vargas said that part of the reason he decided to launch the campaign was his own background in journalism. Since coming out as undocumented in June 2011, he's heard from 15 other journalists with similar stories.

"The fact that we still have news organizations calling people 'illegal' signifies the simplistic nature in which we have this conversation," he said. "We're not just going to your schools and your churches, we're not just mowing your lawns. We're in your newsrooms."

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