La Opinión: The AP Is Right

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Saying that a person is "illegal" is grammatically incorrect and an insult, according to an editorial in La Opinión. Editors write that the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook was right to ban the use of the expression "illegal immigrant." The meaning and scope of words is important, in particular in journalism, editors write.

The problem with the expression "illegal immigrant," the editorial argues, is that its repeated use in humiliating contexts has distorted its limited definition, so that in many cases it is used irresponsibly. Based on that, for example, the rule calls for journalists not to describe a person as a violator of immigration laws if that quote is not attributed to someone.

Editors write that they hope the change at the AP inspires debates in newsrooms that go beyond whether it is right or wrong to use "illegal immigrant," focusing instead on generalizations and stereotypes that are made gratuitously. While it is true that times change, as does the sense of words, the journalistic value of impartial communication remains the same.

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