Updated AP guidelines has finally changed the way we refer to persons with an illegal status


Kernel Opinion SIG

Kellsie Kennedy

The Associated Press mandates the correct rules of grammar, political correctness and much more for journalists. You may have overheard, or even taken part in, a fierce debate between journalism majors who disband the use of the Oxford Comma, leaving English majors to fight for its acceptance. Trust me, it is a big deal.

The Associated Press mandates these rules for public information so that news can be absorbed easily, given that it is delivered in the same general format.  When it comes to political correctness, it seems that the Associated Press has had their heart in the right place, a leap which should be followed by the U.S. government.

CNN reported this summer that “the Justice Department has instructed US attorney offices not to use the term ‘undocumented’ immigrants and instead refer to someone illegally in the US as ‘an illegal alien…'”

However, in 2013, the phrase “illegal alien” was still not acceptable for the Associated Press. That year they released the statement: “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.”

President Donald Trump has walked several steps in the wrong direction away from political correctness.

Vox reported in May that Trump referred to those with an illegal status as “animals” during an immigration roundtable. He seems to be working against solving any issue surrounding illegal immigration. 

This language implies an us-against-them tactic. History has revealed a one-sided viewpoint as a deadly negative for a society. The best way to confront a disagreement is by displaying political correctness. We are taught this in elementary school. You have to say what you think to resolve a conflict, but you also must be nice about it to get your point across.  

The Associated Press had the right idea when they changed their guidelines. It seems strange that the government is not held to similar standards. Even though Washington has a wide array of opinions, displaying those opinions in a politically correct and intelligent way seems like it should be a given.  The Justice Department changing its guidelines is a step closer toward political correctness, but it is still not enough. 

The U.S. has always had an immigration problem. First, the pilgrims. Later, Irish and German immigrants came here by the millions. America continues to have the argument about who and how many are allowed citizenships.

Illegal immigration has not evolved, only our technology and our methods of tracking illegal immigration. Many Americans have forgotten their country’s history, and it shows up in our language.