AP Style Rejects Term ‘Illegal Immigrant’

The Associated Press has removed the term "illegal immigrant" from its Stylebook, reports ABC-Univision.

Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explained the decision in a blog entry this afternoon:

"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," Carroll wrote. […]

Kathleen Carrol also noted in the Tuesday blog post that the AP prefers to label "behavior" rather than "people," writing that instead of using the term "schizophrenic," the AP now prefers saying that one is "diagnosed with schizophrenia."

"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," Carroll wrote. "So we have."

According to ABC-Univision, 1,400 U.S. newspapers follow the editorial format known as AP style.

At this time the AP does not offer a substitute term for an "illegal immigrant."

Carroll wrote:

Is this the best way to describe someone in a country without permission? We believe that it is for now. We also believe more evolution is likely down the road.

Will the new guidance make it harder for writers? Perhaps just a bit at first. But while labels may be more facile, they are not accurate.