We reported this week about a family that asked for an independent autopsy to rule out medical negligence in the death of a relative whom we identified as "an undocumented Mexican immigrant
." Our story led to a call from a listener in west suburban Oak Park who said it's wrong to identify people as "undocumented" if they lack legal status to be in the United States. The fitting term, she said, is "illegal." This topic has come up before and warrants a poll among our listeners/visitors (below).
But first, some background. The U.S. government and many pro-enforcement activist groups routinely use "illegal alien," while many immigrant groups prefer "undocumented immigrant." The Associated Press Stylebook basically splits the difference and recommends "illegal immigrant." Many news organs, including the New York Times
, follow the AP rule. Others don't. The Washington Post
and Chicago Tribune
use both "illegal immigrant" and "undocumented immigrant." The San Francisco Chronicle
uses those phrases and, in context, "undocumented worker." A search of Chicago Public Radio's archives suggests our approach in recent months has resembled the Chronicle's
, though occasionally we've also used "illegal alien."
Before voting, consider the arguments at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists
, the Organization of News Ombudsmen
. After voting, please post a comment to explain your thinking.
UPDATE: Thanks for your responses- this poll is now closed.