The Associated Press is dropping the term "illegal immigrant" from its stories saying it is inaccurate to describe someone that way -- despite the fact it is still being used by U.S. government officials including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The AP says the term 'illegal' should only refer to an action, not a human being.
"I'm not sure why we need to describe people this way," asks Wanda Cash at the University of Texas’ School of Journalism. "You wouldn't describe me as a 'legal immigrant' or as a native-born American."
Cash says it’s all in how the report is written.
"If they're here illegally, let's describe it that way," she tells KTRH News. "But the people, the person himself or herself is not illegal, human beings cannot be illegal."
However, DePauw University's Jeff McCall thinks something else is going on.
"I think the AP's efforts are reflecting the views of the subscribing news organizations they have to deal with," McCall says. "So I'm sure the AP is trying to come up with terminology to keep their subscribers as a happy as possible."
Critics such as William Gheen at the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC say they plan to instead drop the word "immigrant" in favor of "illegal invader."
"Illegals shouldn't be called immigrants at all, because noble immigrants should not be compared to people who are paying drug smugglers to sneak them across the border in the middle of the night," says Gheen.
The New York Times already has dropped the term "illegal immigrant" from its stories, no word if the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Reuters will follow suit.