Home > Recent Post > What’s in a name? AP shifts the discourse by eschewing the term “illegal immigrant”

What’s in a name? AP shifts the discourse by eschewing the term “illegal immigrant”

  • Here at AccessDenied, we have agonized long and hard over whether, how, and under what circumstances terms like “illegal” immigrant and migrant “illegality” ought to appear in writing. (See, for instance, this article and this commentary.)
  • AccessDenied readers, what do you think? If you are a health researcher, health care provider, public health practitioner, activist, and/or migrant/immigrant yourself, what’s your perspective on the discursive shift that is apparently taking shape in the United States?

Prepared by Sarah Willen

  1. Maggie Sullivan
    April 25, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I am a nurse pratitioner working in Boston. I’m strongly supportive of moving away from the term “illegal” immigrant. I have noticed however, that as this terminology seeps into our cultural lexicon, more than one of my Spanish-speaking immigrant patients have used it in reference to themselves. It is no small wonder that the anti-immigrant climate of this country becomes internalized. I mostly find that well-meaning non-immigrant individuals don’t know other vocabulary to use. They hear “illegal” used throughout media sources. One of my good friends asked me what terminology she should use instead. I went through the usual, undocumented, without [immigration] papers, etc. But it wasn’t until I got to “irregular migrant/immigration” that I got a big laugh. When everyday folks are more frequently exposed to viable alternatives, we will begin to see a shift.

  2. swillen
    April 24, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Update on the NYT position: “The Times Shifts on ‘Illegal Immigrant,’ but Doesn’t Ban the Use” – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/business/media/the-times-shifts-on-illegal-immigrant-but-doesnt-ban-the-use.html?emc=tnt&tntemail0=y&_r=0

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