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Thu May 2, 2013, 08:59 AM

Los Angeles Times Drops ‘Illegal Immigrant’


Great news from the Los Angeles Times. Exactly one month after the Associated Press announced that it will no longer describe undocumented immigrants as “illegal”, the fourth most widely distributed paper in the country says that it will do the same.

From the L.A. Times:

Immigration is one of the most contentious and compelling subjects of our time. In our coverage, we aim to report with authority and balance — to be fair, nuanced and precise. We know that language matters and that our word choices must likewise be fair, nuanced and precise.

The Times adopted its current style on immigration-related language in 1995, recommending the use of “illegal immigrants” or “undocumented immigrants” in lieu of “illegal aliens.” Those phrases have become highly politicized since then, prompting the Standards and Practices Committee to consider an update. The committee has been consulting with reporters and editors from across the newsroom since last fall, as well as meeting with advocates seeking an end to the media’s use of “illegal immigrant.” After hearing strong arguments for and against the current Times style, we concluded that it was time for a new approach.

“Illegal immigrants” is overly broad and does not accurately apply in every situation. The alternative suggested by the 1995 guidelines, “undocumented immigrants,” similarly falls short of our goal of precision. It is also untrue in many cases, as with immigrants who possess passports or other documentation but lack valid visas.

Read more at the Times.


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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 09:09 AM

1. Like "crippled" becomes "handicapped" becomes "disabled" becomes "challenged" becomes

"differently abled".

Political correctness is tiresome.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #1)

Thu May 2, 2013, 06:52 PM

7. Accurate use of language is hard... and having to read it is so tiresome- words fail.

I suppose the LA Times should issue an apology to those of its readers who think it is too hard to read words that are being used accurately, rather than the comfortable words they are used to reading which are so much easier to mentally digest.

You know what? I think you should write them a strongly worded letter to that effect. Be sure not to use any original phrases when you do it though, it would undermine your argument.

I'm here to help

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 09:25 AM

2. Call it what you want. They are breaking our laws by being here.


That's what illegal means.

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #2)

Thu May 2, 2013, 05:07 PM

4. I break the law in one way or another practically every time I drive. Doesn't make me illegal. It

does not even make me an "illegal driver".

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Response to pampango (Reply #4)

Thu May 2, 2013, 05:12 PM

5. How about if you're driving without a license? That's a better analogy.


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Response to badtoworse (Reply #5)

Thu May 2, 2013, 06:48 PM

6. Why is it a better analogy? Breaking a law is breaking a law is illegal.

If anything, by your argument, driving without a license would be a "less pernicious" illegality, as there is no "proscribed behavior" (proscribed due to the supposed danger created by said activity) being engaged in... but rather one is simply not up to date on one's paperwork.

Your argument makes speeding sound like a worse crime than not having proper residency documentation... and thereby makes this whole argument seem as ridiculous as I think it should be acknowledged to be.

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Response to LooseWilly (Reply #6)

Thu May 2, 2013, 10:17 PM

8. If you drive without a license you are breaking the law for the entire time you are driving


You are an illegal driver and the only way you can become a legal driver is to get a license. If you are in the country without proper documents, you are breaking the law the entire time you are here, i.e. you are an illegal alien. As I understand current law, the only way tpo become legal is to leave and get the proper documents, i.e. a visa or a work permit.

I'm not buying the relativistic crap about what is more or less pernicious.

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Response to badtoworse (Reply #8)

Fri May 3, 2013, 02:33 PM

9. Actually, if you drive without a license, then you are driving illegally.

An illegal driver, on the other hand, looks like this:


There is no mention in the vehicular code (section 12500 of CA vehicular code, http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d06) of someone in violation of said code being "illegal".

Instead, a person who is driving a motor vehicle without a license is engaging in unlawful behavior, much as speeders are doing, or texters, or even people who use map apps behind the wheel.

References to those who are driving without a license usually employ a tone similar to this:
Some people who get caught driving on a suspended drivers license, or with an expired drivers license will get arrested and/or cited for violating California Vehicle Code section 12500(a). That section is generally known as “driving without a valid license”.

Violations of Vehicle Code section 12500 usually come in the form of a ticket or citation after a person is stopped by a peace officer. The violation will typically be listed in the officers writing on the citation as “VC 12500a”.

In a way, getting a VC12500a violation means you got lucky. It may have been the lessor of 2 evils the officer could have selected.


You'll notice that "that section" is not generally known as "illegal drivers", but rather "driving without a valid license". The only instances of "illegal drivers" that can be found are references to golf clubs that don't conform with PGA regulations, or drivers who lack residency documentation (not "illegal drivers" and definitely not "illegal illegal drivers, but "illegal" drivers... clearly demonstrating a "special" notion for residency status, which your analogy does nothing to justify).

In other words, there is no correlation between the notion of driving illegally and residing illegally within the scope of common usage. In order to make your asserted similarity valid, common usage would have to cease referring to those who reside illegally as "illegals".

Precisely what the LA Times is now endeavoring to do...

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