Society of Professional Journalists Votes to End Use of Term ‘Illegal Alien’

The Society of Professional Journalists voted this week to support the recommendation that newsrooms abandon the terms “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien.” According to Richard Prince at the Maynard Institute, the 7,800 member organization passed the resolution with a voice vote after SPJ and National Association of Hispanic Journalists member Rebecca Aguilar shared her family’s story of the shame they feel every time they hear those terms in the media.

Surprisingly, the motion has yet to generate much controversy from the nativist blogosphere. Because this is exactly the type of thing that gets them in a lather–media supporting what they would undoubtedly consider a “liberal” position. We’re guessing they haven’t heard about it yet.

The full text of the resolution, via Prince, is posted after the jump.

“WHEREAS, the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics urges all journalists to be ‘honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information’ and;

“WHEREAS, mainstream news reports are increasingly using the politically charged phrase ‘illegal immigrant’ and the more offensive and bureaucratic ‘illegal alien’ to describe undocumented immigrants, particularly Latinos and;

“WHEREAS, a fundamental principle embedded in our U.S. Constitution is that everyone (including non-citizens) is considered innocent of any crime until proven guilty in a court of law and;

“WHEREAS, this constitutional doctrine, often described as ‘innocent-until-proven-guilty,’ applies not just to U.S. Citizens but to everyone in the United States and;

“WHEREAS, only the court system, not reporters and editors, can decide when a person has committed an illegal act and;

“WHEREAS, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists is also concerned with the increasing use of pejorative and potentially inaccurate terms to describe the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States;

“THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists convention of delegates: urges journalists and style guide editors to stop the use of illegal alien and encourage continuous discussion and re-evaluation of the use of illegal immigrant in news stories.”

Publish date: September 29, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT