Pelosi: Using Terminology Like 'Illegal Aliens' Isn't 'Constructive'

June 14, 2018

House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said on Thursday that using terms such as "illegal aliens" wasn't "viewed as constructive."

Pelosi was holding a press conference at the Capitol where she was asked about whether allowing illegal aliens to work in the United States was hurting Americans' wages.

"That's not the point. Using terminology like 'illegal aliens illegally entering the country' is just not viewed as constructive," Pelosi said.

Pelosi added that there is a responsibility to protect the nation's borders and to protect America's values. She said the issue at hand was about those seeking asylum and not those entering the United States illegally.

This is not the first time someone has said it is "offensive" to call a person who enters the United States illegally an illegal immigrant or illegal alien.

MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell said last fall it was offensive when Attorney General Jeff Sessions used the term illegal alien during a press conference.

"To say nothing of the use of his word ‘illegal aliens,’ which is offensive to a lot of people and not correct," Mitchell said.

Many, especially those on the left, prefer the term "undocumented migrant" to describe those who illegally cross into the United States.

The Asian American Journalists Association has also encouraged people not to use the term "illegal" in any way to describe such individuals.

Mainstream publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN, have all run pieces questioning the use of terms that involve the word "illegal."

CNN published an opinion piece in 2012 that referred to "illigal immigrant" as a slur.

The Times piece from March 2017 noted:

The Times’s style guide, a 368-page reference manual that offers guidance on everything from grammar and punctuation to particularly thorny issues of usage, acknowledges that the term "illegal immigrant" may be considered "loaded or offensive" by some readers. "Without taking sides or resorting to euphemism," the guide states, "consider alternatives when appropriate to explain the specific circumstances of the person in question or to focus on actions: who crossed the border illegallywho overstayed a visawho is not authorized to work in this country."

The Post noted in February 2017 that the push to drop the term "illegal" had gained steam.

The effort has gained steam. In 2013, the Associated Press dropped "illegal immigrant" from its stylebook, saying "illegal" should be used to describe actions, not people. Other publications followed suit, including USA Today. In a similar move, California Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015 scrubbed "alien" from the state’s labor code. More recently, the Library of Congress announced in March 2016 that it would seek to remove "illegal alien" from its subject headings.