Jose Antonio Vargas Challenges NYT and AP To Drop 'Illegal Immigrant'

September 21st, 2012

ABC News
By Ted Hesson
Sept. 21, 2012

PHOTO: Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas calls on media outlets to drop the term “illegal immigrant” at the 2012 Online News Association Conference and Awards Banquet in San Francisco on Sept. 21. (Ingrid Rojas/ABC-Univision)

Starting today, a non-profit founded by Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist, activist, and undocumented immigrant, will begin monitoring the use of the phrase “illegal immigrant” in the media, with the goal of shifting the conversation around the issue.

“Right now, my two main targets, and I say that politely, are going to be The New York Times and the Associated Press,” Vargas told reporters after his keynote address at the 2012 Online News Association Conference and Awards Banquet in San Francisco today.

Vargas, who has written about his own struggles with immigration status in The New York Times Magazine and Time, suggested that outlets use undocumented immigrant or engage in a conversation about alternatives to “illegal.”

“The term dehumanizes and marginalizes the people it seeks to describe,” Vargas said. “Think of it this way, in what other context do we call someone illegal?”

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