Well, the terminology anyway:
AP Stylebook editors sat down with a number of groups who were concerned about their entry on the the term in recent years and “sought the views of a cross section of AP staffers” on the issue, according to Colford.
Kathleen Carroll also noted in the Tuesday blog post that the AP prefers to label “behavior” rather than “people,” writing that instead of using the term “schizophrenic,” the AP now prefers saying that one is “diagnosed with schizophrenia.”
“And that discussion about labeling people, instead of behavior, led us back to ‘illegal immigrant’ again. We concluded that to be consistent, we needed to change our guidance,” Carroll wrote. “So we have.”
The schizophrenic example is interesting, because I am not sure how excited I am about that change. Using schizophrenic as an adjective and not a noun seems reasonable (“schizophrenic people/individuals/etc.” in place of “schizophrenics”) but a clunky three or four word description to convey meaning that can be more easily conveyed in fewer words is not really a step forward, in my view. But there is at least consistency here.
I wrote a while back about the terminology wars surrounding the issue of immigration, legal and otherwise. My main concern is not “political correctness” per se (though I still maintain that “undocumented immigrants” is excessively euphemistic). And my concern that some of this has the effect – maybe even the desire – to stifle not just words, but concepts. In this case, the important distinction between those immigrants that are here legally and those that are not. This is not a distinction we can wish away, even though I sometimes get the impression that the stronger advocates for immigration might prefer that we did.
This is mostly, though, about language. The conveyance of ideas. Making certain ideas more difficult or less difficult to convey without terminology deemed offensive. I share Kevin Drum’s annoyance that no direct substitute is suggested (and indeed, substitution is discouraged):
Illegal immigrant is now out.
But I do still have a problem. AP apparently now feels that there’s no acceptable way to refer to people who are in the country illegally. Neither “undocumented immigrant” nor “unauthorized immigrant,” is acceptable, and neither is anything else. Labels are flatly not allowed, despite the fact that we label people all the time. Kevin Drum is a blogger. Barack Obama is a politician. Etc.
This leaves us with constructions like “John Doe is a person who immigrated to the United States illegally.” Or: “A bill pending in Congress would bar immigrants who are in the country illegally from receiving Medicaid.” Clunkiness aside, I guess we can all get used to that, but I’m not sure how it especially serves the cause of accuracy.
I previously had an issue with what to refer to anti-(illegal)immigrants. They were not wrong to point out that “anti-immigrant” is not exactly fair, because they could well support legal immigrants and more of them (though, to be truthful, this is not my experience). But anti-illegal immigrant also struck me as having accuracy problems because it’s clunky and in my experience not particularly accurate. I’ve settled on “border hawks” which nobody has taken me to task on. It’s nicer than saying “the moat and poison dart crowd.”
In any event, I will try to move away from “illegal immigrant” in the future. As mentioned, I’m not sure about “undocumented immigrant” and will definitely not be moving to elongate references to three or more words. I’ve seen “unauthorized immigrant” which works for me.