Saturday, April 20, 2024

NAHJ Urges the Media to Stop Using “Illegals” When Discussing Immigration

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists released a statement urging the new media to stop using the dehumanizing term “illegals” when referring to undocumented immigrants. Using accurate terminology in news coverage of immigration is something the NAHJ has long been advocating for, especially now that the term “illegals” is being used more frequently.

“We continue to see ‘illegals’ used as a noun seeping from the fringes into the mainstream media, and in turn, into the mainstream political dialogue,” said NAHJ Executive Director Iván Román. “Using these terms not only distorts the debate, but it takes away their identities as individuals and human beings. When journalists do that, it’s that much easier to treat them unfairly and not give them an equal voice in the controversy.”

The NAHJ believes that the use of terms like “illegals” implies criminal action and removes fairness and neutrality in the debate – two aspects good journalism should strive to achieve.

In the same vein, NAHJ has always denounced the use of the terms “alien” and “illegal alien” when describing undocumented immigrants because it portrays these people in inhuman terms and leads to assumptions of questionable motives.

It is also suggested by the NAHJ that editors and journalists refrain from reporting a person’s legal status unless it is relevant to the story being reported. Some media outlets are being pressured to publish the legal status of any Latino who appears in newspaper or television, regardless of the subject. The NAHJ explains that doing so would facilitate an environment of hate and discrimination while using Latinos as the scapegoats for many of our society’s problems.

As the debate over immigration reform heats up, NAHJ believes that using correct terminology in the media will contribute to fair coverage and encourage healthy public debate.



  1. If we’re talking about fundamentalist Muslim immigrants sneaking into the U.S. from Yemen, the term “illegal aliens” makes sense, but not when we’re talking about our next-door neighbors in Mexico, many of whose ancestors were here before ours. There’s so many Mexicans in the U.S. now that even trying to separate them into legals and illegals is counterproductive, as is treating the failed country of Mexico as a separate country.

    Now is the time for the U.S. to finally work to incorporate Mexico as 10+ new states sans the corrupt Mexican federal govt., after which all 414 million Americans can finally work to share the New World in peace.

    Click the url to read about the nonpartisan Megamerge Dissolution Solution to the U.S.-Mexico problem.