Santa Barbara Newspaper Building Vandalized for 'Worst Ever' Headline on 'Illegals'

January 10th, 2015 8:27 AM

The Santa Barbara News-Press building has been vandalized due to criticism it received over a recent headline using the word “illegals” which, incidentally, described immigrants who entered and are living in the United States illegally.

It all started on Saturday, January 3, when the News-Press wrote a front-page article titled “Illegals line up for driver’s licenses.”  The article is accompanied with a photo that showed many people waiting in line at the DMV. Thanks to the passage of the Assembly Bill 60, motorists in California can obtain a driver’s license without the need to prove legal residence.

From the Associated Press:

In addition to apparent paintball splatters, the entrance to the building was spray-painted with graffiti that read: "Fight back" and "The border is illegal not the people who cross it." Cleaning crews went to the building to wash off the paint.

The headline drew intense criticism.

"Not only is snapping a photo of a group of Latinos and calling them illegal wrong and ignorant, it also creates a hostile environment for the largest ethnic community in the state," said a petition on the website

The entrance was also vandalized with graffiti that read: "The border is illegal not the people who cross it."

…Donald K. Katich, the News-Press director of news operations, says in a statement that the newspaper has used the term for nearly 10 years and it is appropriate.

"It is an appropriate term in describing someone as 'illegal' if they are in this country illegally," he said, adding, "When breaking the law becomes the norm, America is no better than other lawless nations."

Latina magazine denounced the use of this I-word, calling it “an outdated and dehumanizing phrase.”  Their hyper headline was “NEWSPAPER RUNS MOST OFFENSIVE HEADLINE AGAINST UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS EVER” (use of caps by latina). Christina Arreola at Latina credited Twitter:

Latino Rebels first broke the news after Chipster Life alerted them to the xenophobic headline on Twitter. The article, written by News-Press staff writer Taylor Knopf, uses the term "illegals" in the headline and the phrase "illegal aliens" in the first paragraph of the article, which can be viewed at Latino Rebels.

Unfortunately, Knopf seems to have missed the memo: the term "illegal" has not been in use for several years now. The AP Stylebook officially dropped the term in 2013, and publications such as the Huffington Post, The Miami Herald and The San Antonio Express-News have discontinued usage of the inflammatory term.

Funny, Arreola actually calls The Huffington Post a publication, actually citing it as a credible source.  What’s even funnier is her overuse of the word “dehumanizing” to describe the word “illegal” when describing someone who has done something illegal (gasp!) She lamely cites the AP Stylebook:

In 2013, AP Stylebook's Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explained the decision to end use of the dehumanizing phrase. "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 Stylebook asked that reporters refrain from using an overarching term like "illegal" which lumps undocumented immigrants in with serious criminals. Instead, they recommended that reporters fully describe a person's immigration status.”

Hmmm. Ok.  So what do you call someone who crosses into the United States illegally, and lives in the United States illegally?  Ironically, it’s not the opening sentence to a joke.  So by their account, only serious criminals are illegal ones and worthy of the term “illegal”?  What’s the difference in saying someone has illegally parked versus parking illegally?  Or illegal stop versus stopping illegally? Or illegal turn versus turning illegally?

And since this is all started with “illegal immigrants” waiting in line at the DMV, perhaps those throwing such a fit will take the time to help their fellow (soon-to-be) California motorists actually pass the driving test.


“At a DMV in south Sacramento, Veronica Oropeza, a 28-year-old illegal immigrant who has reportedly been driving without a license for six years, reportedly failed her written exam twice.

"Nobody’s passing,” she told the Sacramento Bee in Spanish.

As the Bee noted, “those who passed the written exam were given a driver’s permit and required to return another day to take the road test.”

“When Nevada allowed illegal immigrants to apply for licenses last year, 71% of illegal immigrants in the state reportedly failed the written exam in the first three days. Wanting to avoid what happened in Nevada, immigrant groups like the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) had provided free test prep classes to illegal immigrants in the final months of 2014.

Oropeza had “already spent more than three hours at the DMV,” and “she couldn’t stay to take the exam a third time, she said, because she had to get to work.”

Interesting. Hopefully Oropeza had a ride waiting to take her to work after not passing the driver’s test despite taking it twice in one day.