October 3, 2014

Pelosi Corrects Reporter on the Use of ‘Illegal Alien’

It was a small moment during Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) press briefing Wednesday when she corrected a reporter for using the term “illegal alien.”

“If president Obama does what he has promised to do,” the female reporter said, “and takes executive actions to legalize some illegal aliens in the United States–”

“Are you referring to undocumented people who are in the United States?” Pelosi asked.

“Illegal aliens, yes ma'am.”

“Undocumented people, okay.”

“Should this legislation include Iraqis as well?” the reporter finished.

The exchange shows two sides that are debating what we should call people who move to the United States and live here illegally. Last year, the Associated Press changed its stylebook and discouraged the use of the phrase “illegal immigrant” because, it argued, no one is illegal, their actions are. But the AP also doesn’t want to use the phrase “undocumented people” because one misplaced document or two and most people are undocumented. Pelosi intentionally used a politically charged phrase in an attempt to shape the debate.

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