Thursday, April 04, 2013

Good news for the day, no. 1

No human being is illegal, says the Associated Press, even though some people do take up residence in this country without legal permission.

Count this as a victory. Colorlines, Presente, and the journalist Jose Antonio Vargas have worked long and hard for this day.

Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll of the Associated Press explains:

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

… we had in other areas been ridding the Stylebook of labels. The new section on mental health issues argues for using credibly sourced diagnoses instead of labels. Saying someone was “diagnosed with schizophrenia” instead of schizophrenic, for example.

And that discussion about labeling people, instead of behavior, led us back to “illegal immigrant” again.

We concluded that to be consistent, we needed to change our guidance.

So we have.

Good for the AP; this suggested change in reporters' usage will percolate through the society gradually. It will help move discussions of comprehensive immigration reform in a more humane direction. After all, no human is "illegal."

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