1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to secondary content



Latino Daily News

Wednesday April 3, 2013

AP Says Adios and Bans Use of Term “Illegal Immigrant”

AP Says Adios and Bans Use of Term “Illegal Immigrant”

Photo: AP bans "illegal immigrant"

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Associated Press (AP), the world’s oldest and largest newsgathering organization, announced it will no longer be using the term “illegal” in their AP Stylebook to describe people living in the country illegally.

AP issued a statement through its Executive Editor, Kathleen Carroll:

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.” The discussions on this topic have been wide-ranging and include many people from many walks of life. (Earlier, they led us to reject descriptions such as “undocumented,” despite ardent support from some quarters, because it is not precise. A person may have plenty of documents, just not the ones required for legal residence.)

Positive reaction from immigrant advocacy and civil rights group was immediate.  The National Hispanic Media Coalition said “We applaud AP for its decision to stop using the word “illegal” to describe human beings. For far too long, this term has been accepted as a politically correct way for some to spew hatred, xenophobia, and fear throughout our communities. At a certain point, it lost any descriptive qualities and became nothing more than a slur used to dehumanize and degrade a very important part of our country. I’m pleased to see the word “illegal” following the path of other slurs such as “wetback”“.

The AP Stylebook that is used by all their writers and editorial team will now read as follows: 

illegal immigration Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission. Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented.