The Times Is Behind the Times

"The word illegal is an accurate description for actions, but not individuals. We don't use it to describe people who commit other crimes. We write about unlicensed drivers, for example, not illegal drivers." -- Former Fox News Latino Managing Editor, Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush said in a recent article.

"In short, we made the change in 2010 after much internal discussion and deliberation, concluding that it's legally and journalistically incorrect to describe people who aren't in the United States legally as 'illegal immigrants.' We do not use 'illegal' as a noun. However, we use 'illegal immigration' to describe the movement of people into the United States who don't have proper documentation. As with other alleged violations of the law, reporters and editors must use attribution when writing that someone has broken immigration laws. When such information is relevant, we write that a person is in the country illegally, citing the source. For example: 'Police said the man is in the United States illegally,' or, 'Border Patrol agents said they detained 40 men who were in the country illegally.'" -- Jamie Stockwell, Managing Editor,San Antonio Express-News

"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," -- Jeffrey Schneider, Senior Vice President, ABC

"We can call various acts or actions illegal, but not the people who commit them," Morcate wrote in Spanish in an email. He added that, "an important sector of our TV audience considers it to be offensive, calling certain immigrants 'illegal.'" He also calls into question "the historical justice in calling Mexican immigrants without papers 'illegal,' taking into account that large parts of U.S. territories once belonged to Mexico." -- Daniel Morcate, Chief Newsroom Editor, Univision

"First of all no human being illegal. It is denigrating to call a person an 'illegal'. Crossing the border 'illegally' or with no documents is a misdemeanor not a crime. The Supreme Court shot down the provision is Arizona's SB1070 that made entering the country without proper documents a state crime. If entering the country illegally made you an 'illegal', then we would have to use the term to refer to others who commit misdemeanors such as: 'illegal vandal', 'illegal tax-evader', 'illegal-loiterer', 'illegal shoplifter' -- Maria Elena Salinas, Univision Anchor

And finally:

"We don't use the term 'illegal immigrant' because it is imprecise and it offends the very people it seeks to describe. Moreover, according to Pew, over half of Latinos say they worry "a lot" or "some" that they, a family member or a close friend could be deported. This is a personal issue to the U.S. Hispanic community. To dehumanize and insult the people that are close to us, the major part of our core audience, would be wrong. We believe in accuracy and in respecting people's humanity. The term 'Illegal immigrant' fails in that criteria." -- Fernando Vila-Rodriguez, Managing Editor, ABC/Univision


Update: CBS News initially told ABC/Univision that they prefer to use the term "undocumented" when referring to individuals. They later issued a statement that at times they also use "undocumented worker" or "illegal immigrant."

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