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Chronicle alters its style on ‘illegal immigrant,’ ‘illegal alien’

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Chronicle becomes the latest of several publications (the LA Times did so a few weeks ago) to change its style on the term “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien,” essentially matching changes the AP made earlier. Journalists are advised not to refer to a person as “illegal” or an “alien.” Poynter blogs about the change and includes the Chronicle’s new style book entry (which you may read, after the jump):

illegal immigration

Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law. 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. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission.

Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented immigrant. This prohibition also applies to headlines.

Do not describe people as violating immigration laws without attribution.

Specify wherever possible how someone entered the country illegally and from where. Crossed the border? Overstayed a visa? What nationality?

People who were brought into the country as children should not be described as having immigrated illegally. 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.


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