Associated Press Refers to Illegal Immigrants as ‘Undocumented Citizens’

Immigration activists protest the Trump administration's decision to end DACA / Getty Images
Immigration activists protest the Trump administration's decision to end DACA / Getty Images

An Associated Press article published Tuesday referred to the illegal immigrants affected by President Donald Trump's repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as "undocumented citizens."

The unusual descriptor appeared in a Sept. 5 story regarding a promise from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D.). Emanuel has promised public school students they "have nothing to worry about" following the repeal of DACA, and Chicago schools "will be a Trump-free zone."

The story's lead paragraph described DACA as a program "protecting young immigrants from deportation," without the important qualifier that it protects illegal immigrants from deportation. DACA was implemented to protect those brought to the United States illegally at a young age. It provided protection from deportation given they meet certain standards.

"The Chicago Sun-Times reports that school officials say about a third of the school's students are undocumented citizens," the AP wrote.

By definition, AP's use of the term "undocumented citizens" is inaccurate. Those who enter the United States illegally and have not followed a path to citizenship are not U.S. citizens. Those protected by DACA are innately not U.S. citizens, or they would not fall under the program.

In 2013, the AP updated its style guide to ban the use of the term "illegal immigrant" in stories. "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," the style guide reads.

"People who were brought into the country as children should not be described as having immigrated illegally," it continues. "For people granted a temporary right to remain in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, use temporary resident status, with details on the program lower in the story."