When Words Matter Most



We've used the term "illegal immigrant" at Weekly World Central before, and some of those abusive cretins who take the time to comment have informed us that "immigrant" is a joke, and "alien" is best.

This morning, a diversity blog from the Society of Professional Journalists brought it all home for me that the wrong word we've used all along isn't immigrant; perhaps a word is missing before illegal.

When we write about a crime that's taken place we always use the word suspect. Immigrants arrested because they are undocumented have yet to face a judge, and last time I checked, we still have a Constitution, despite the mob.

Enjoy the read here.

For those newswriters who insist on using the phrase “illegal immigrant” (or perhaps because it is a required, company policy); add the modifying adjective “suspected,” as “pro” journalists do when writing about arrestees or police suspects.

A fundamental legal principle in our American constitutional law is that everyone (including non-citizens) is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Consistent with that basic doctrine of law, journalists are urged to use the phrase “undocumented immigrant,” and avoid the denigrative phrases “illegal immigrant” or “illegal alien.”


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