The New York Times's politically correct evolution on immigration issues continues apace. Public editor Margaret Sullivan blogged Tuesday afternoon on the paper reconsidering the use of term "illegal immigrant," in the wake of the Associated Press's announcement that it would cease using it.
The Associated Press made a bold move on Tuesday in dropping the term “illegal immigrant” from its influential stylebook.
The Times, for the past couple of months, has also been considering changes to its stylebook entry on this term and will probably announce them to staff members this week. (A stylebook is the definitive guide to usage, relied upon by writers and editors, for the purpose of consistency.)
From what I can gather, The Times’s changes will not be nearly as sweeping as The A.P.’s.
It will “provide more nuance and options” for what term to use, said Philip B. Corbett, associate managing editor for standards. In the past, for example, the term “undocumented” has practically been banned as a euphemism. That position is very likely to be softened in the revision, and other ways of describing those who are in the United States without proper legal documentation probably will be allowed and encouraged.
The term "undocumented" was "banned" from the Times? You could have fooled us.
Times reporter Ashley Parker pointed out in a February 1 article that "undocumented" is the word preferred by Democrats: "In a similar linguistic concession, [Sen. Marco] Rubio, during Monday’s immigration news conference, referred to the 'undocumented' workers, a term generally preferred by Democrats and loathed by his party’s conservative wing." Now the Times will be using it even more often.
Sullivan's own opinion has changed as well, swayed by liberal pressure.
It’s good to see these moves taking place. Language evolves and it’s time for these changes. Early in my tenure as public editor, I considered this question and came down in favor of the continued use of “illegal immigrant,” because it was a clear and easily understandable term. My position on this has changed over the past several months. So many people find it offensive to refer to a person with an adjective like “illegal” that I now favor the use of “undocumented” or “unauthorized” as alternatives.