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Thursday, April 11, 2013
Two words that have long been a part of rhetoric among citizens and journalists in the United States have finally faced serious opposition. The Associated Press has now deemed the term “illegal immigrant” improper and removed the term from its stylebook.
I agree with the AP’s change because of what it is as an organization and what it stands for, but I’m worried. AP can change the phrase, but can it do so without removing the truth of the situation? You have to reference that the action these immigrants have taken is illegal, and the AP has to find a common term or word to emulate that point.
These people choose, for whatever purpose, to cross the border of the United States of America illegally and stay in the country without proper documentation for a period of time. This is a fact that I think cannot be overlooked, and the AP has to walk a fine line between using terms more appropriate and favoring a pro-immigration agenda.
Rhetoric can be charged and misleading, and you can see facets of that in media every single day. The AP, on the other hand, is not an organization meant to fuel that agenda-setting tone and has to remain true to its commitment of neutrality as it chooses a replacement.
Critics argue that “illegal immigrant” is grammatically an oxymoron by definition, but so is gay marriage under the terms in which that is presented. They argue that it is also removing the harshness from the “loaded term” and no longer dehumanizing these people. I understand that these “people,” for the now created confusion, are in fact humans. I know they are no better than me and have feelings, family, and some of them, I’m sure, are wonderful people.
Ultimately though, this doesn’t change the fact they are criminals. It’s as if labeling people as murderers or rapists was never dehumanizing, which by all accounts they are. The difference most people point out is that they are murderers or rapists based on their actions, not them as people. I believe every American has a hard time disassociating those acts from that person as a whole. In this case, you can remove referring to the person as being illegal, but at the end of the day, you cannot avoid mentioning the fact that he committed an illegal act.
Yes, these people have yet to be tried and convicted of a crime, but what they are doing is illegal and against all laws of the United States regarding citizenship and immigration. Surprisingly, many of them will admit it. Unfortunately, there’s no suffix you can add to immigrant that refers to the act of being here illegally, or even a simple phrase to those who are not technically immigrants and are staying only for a certain period of time.
A lot of people are now pushing for the term “undocumented worker,” but not all of those who have entered this country illegally are working, such as children. So what do we call them?
It seems as if the AP knew it needed to change the term but was void of a replacement. The AP has now left many of us confused as to what is the correct term to call these people who lack approval or citizenship of the United States government to be living on its land.
I lack a firm and concrete answer to this issue, but I do know this. Regardless of your immigration beliefs, the AP cannot let people who are breaking the law off the hook in its rhetoric without referencing the act. The service references suspects in other crimes, just as it should. Now, it along with the rest of us, have to find a way to correctly term this illegal act without dehumanizing or downplaying its significance.
Weather Journal70 Thursday to ice Sunday?