DEFINE AMERICAN LAUNCHES PLEDGE CAMPAIGN URGING MEDIA TO STOP USING TERM “ILLEGAL”

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NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
March 26, 2015

CONTACT:
Brenda Arredondo: (202) 587-4945 | [email protected] 

WASHINGTON – Today, Define American launched a campaign asking members of the media to stop using the word “illegal” to refer to people. In April 2013, the Associated Press announced they would remove the term “illegal immigrant” from the AP stylebook, a change that Define American and a handful of organizations had been campaigning for. Other publications, outlets, and reporters, including student journalists and college newspapers, have since followed suit (listed below), but today’s campaign urge all journalists to stop using “illegal” when referring to people.

“Journalists know that words matter– words are combustible, politicized, tangible things. And journalists must know that human beings are not illegal. I urge news organizations to follow the example of The Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, and other news organizations and college newspapers. Words do matter: words shape perceptions, which impact actions. Actions are illegal, people are not,” said Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of Define American.

“Regardless of where an individual falls on the issue of immigration, we should not use language that is divisive and creates a hostile environment. The term has come to have racial undertones and has been used to denigrate fellow human beings; it is immoral to continue perpetuating it in the media,” said Rev. Ryan M. Eller, executive director of Define American.

Define American asks other media outlets, reporters, and personalities to follow their colleagues and recognize the impact language has on perceptions. You can sign the pledge as an individual, or if you have the approval to do so, on behalf of your publication, here: #wordsmatter

COMMITTED TO #WORDSMATTER IN NEWS COVERAGE:

COLLEGE PUBLICATIONS

  • University of Wisconsin, (The Badger Herald)
  • Cornell University (Cornell Sun)
  • Yale University (The Yale Daily News)
  • University of Kansas (University Daily Kansan)
  • Tufts University
  • University of California Los Angeles

NEWS OUTLETS

  • Associated Press
  • The Los Angeles Times
  • CNN
  • The Huffington Post
  • NY1

REPORTERS AND GROUPS

  • The National Association of Hispanic Journalists
  • The Filipino American Press Club of New York

In September 2012, Jose Antonio Vargas and Define American began campaigning against the use of the term “illegal immigrant” at a speech at the 2012 Online News Association Conference and Awards Banquet in San Francisco.

Define American is a media and culture campaign using the power of story to transcend politics and shift conversation around immigration, identity, and citizenship in America.

If you would like to interview someone in connection to this story, please contact Brenda Arredondo at (202) 587-4945 or [email protected]

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