NY TIMES under fire for the term “ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT”

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For decades, the term “illegal immigrant” has been deemed as offensive, controversial, and flat out disrespectful, despite its usage by reputable news organizations nationwide. After years of protests from immigration -rights advocates claiming that the term is dehumanizing, the Associated Press announced earlier this this month that the NY Times will no longer be using the phrase in any of its publications. The Times did not given any official information on their stance regarding the term immediately after the AP news was released. Phil Corbett, standards editor for the NY Times, assured the Huffington Post that editors were discussing a solution to the matter.

“We’ve been discussing some possible revisions in our guidance on these terms for a couple of months,” said Corbett. “Coincidentally, we had been expecting to send a memo to staff soon, possibly this week.”

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Many prominent news organizations use the Times’ style guide, and have been quick to eliminate the term altogether. The Times has had a slightly firmer stance on the matter, trying to avoid sounding too “safe” and overusing euphemisms. As opposed to what the AP claims, the term has not been banned, although the guidelines and rules surrounding the usage of the phrase have been altered.

On Tuesday, the NY Times released an updated entry on their “tweaked” new style guide:

“Illegal immigrant may be used to describe someone who enters, lives in or works in the United States without proper legal authorization. But be aware that in the debate over immigration, some people view it as loaded or offensive. Without taking sides or resorting to euphemism, consider alternatives when appropriate to explain the specific circumstances of the person in question, or to focus on actions: who crossed the border illegally; who overstayed a visa; who is not authorized to work in this country.

Unauthorized is also an acceptable description, though it has a bureaucratic tone. Undocumented is the term preferred by many immigrants and their advocates, but it has a flavor of euphemism and should be used with caution outside quotations. Illegal immigration, because it describes the issue rather than an individual, is less likely than illegal immigrant to be seen as troubling.

Take particular care in describing people whose immigration status is complex or subject to change – for example, young people brought to this country as children, many of whom are eligible for temporary reprieves from deportation under federal policies adopted in 2012.

Do not use illegal as a noun, and avoid the sinister-sounding alien.”

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In a recent statement, Corbett stated that the Times had heavy discussions about this matter for months prior to the AP’s official posting. The statement was made shortly following immigration -rights activists’ protests just outside of the NY Times headquarters. During the protest, Jill Abramson, executive editor, was handed a petition which had over 70,000 signatures demanding that the term be dropped from the style guide.

Like many current topics trending with immigration this month, the handling of this term has struck up much controversy. While it’s smiled upon to eliminate offensive or hateful speech regarding any minority, many consider this situation to be crossing the fine line into censorship, arguing that our media does that already. Either way, the NYT has made their stance and is, as of now, sticking to their decision.

Source: Huffingtonpost, “Will The New York Times Next Drop ‘Illegal Immigrant?’” Michael Calderone,
April 2, 2013

Source: Huffingtonpost, “NY Times Tweaks Entry On ‘Illegal Immigrant’” Rebecca Shapiro,
April 23, 2013

Source: Huffingtonpost, “NYT changes style slightly on ‘illegal immigrant’” Andrew Beaujon,
April 23, 2013

Immigration Bill Completed

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Wednesday, April 17 2013 marks the completion of one of the most pivotal immigration bills our nation has seen in decades. After a failed attempt by former President George W. Bush, and an undelivered-upon promise made by President Barack Obama’s during his first term, a group of eight bipartisan senators (The Gang of Eight) ban together in an effort to evaluate the circumstances and piece together a long-awaited reform. President Obama has made the legislation a 2013 priority, largely due to the fact that 71% of the U.S. Hispanic population supported him in the 2012 election.

The full bill was released early on Wednesday morning, and is officially titled the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act.” The 844-page legislation’s core focal points include the security of our nation’s border, and a path to citizenship for the United States’ 11 million undocumented immigrants.

If the bill passes, undocumented immigrants could begin a steady but lengthy path toward citizenship. The way the United States distributes visas would undergo a huge shift, and employers would be required to verify all applicants’ authority to work in the U.S. using the government’s online E-Verify system. This bill also pushes the country away from family-based visas and toward merit-based visas.

The proposed legislation revolves around four main points:


The act proposes that the Department of Homeland Security drafts together and implements a strategy to surveil the entire southwest border, intercepting 90% of those attempting to cross it illegally. If the DHS does not meet these standards, a new border commission would be created to take control of the job.


All immigrants who were living in the U.S. prior to December 31, 2011 would be able to apply for a temporary legal status. After 10 years, they would be eligible to apply for a green card ($2000), and then finally for citizenship three years after that.


All businesses and employers would be required to use an online E-Verify system that checks the status of an applicant’s immigration status. This will also help the DHS track and monitor every time an immigrant enters or leaves the country.


The proposed bill dismantles the country’s legal immigration system by cutting down on visas distributed to immigrants related to U.S. citizens and, expanding the number of visas given to immigrants skilled in fields such as science, engineering, and math.

This bill is extremely controversial. This morning, Huffington Post’s message boards were flooded with comments from outraged U.S. citizens who feel that this legislation would mean that the government would spend too much time and money on undocumented citizens.

“It really doesn’t matter what’s in this bill and what isn’t,” says Lorraine455, regarding Wednesday’s release of the bill. “The biggest problem here is that, once again, our elected representatives are ignoring what the majority of people want, no amnesty for illegals that broke our immigration laws in the first place.”

On the other hand, many immigrants are disappointed with how long it has taken for a measure like this to be considered.

“It is unfortunate that we have so little time to digest and evaluate such an expansive piece of legislation before we hold our initial committee hearing,” said Senator Mike Lee of Utah, who stopped working with the Gang of Eight due to disagreements over the bill’s proposed path to citizenship. “As senators, it is our duty to read the bill and fully understand the impact it will have on our immigration system before casting votes.”

Despite the bill’s controversial content, the official hearing will not take place until April 19th, 2013, when the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold the first hearing. The Gang of Eight senators will be spending these preceding few days going over the bill, and preparing for any backlash the legislation may get on Friday’s hearing. The senators have told the press that they are open-minded toward amendments to the bill as long as they don’t impede the legislation’s big picture or kill its intent in any way.

“This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me,” said President Barack Obama. “But it is largely consistent with the principales that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform. … I urge the Senate to quickly move this bill forward and, as I told Senators Schumer and McCain, I stand willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible.”

Source: Huffingtonpost, “Senate Immigration Bill To Heighten Border Security, Grant Legal Status” Elise Foley,
April 18, 2013

Source: usatoday.com, “Senate ‘Gang of Eight’ releases immigration bill” Alan Gomez,
April 17, 2013

Source: Huffingtonpost, “Senate Immigration Group Turns To Keeping ‘Fragile Agreement’ Intact” Elise Foley,
April 16, 2013

Settlement Warrantless Home Raids

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is backed into a corner this week, having to cough up $1 million due to the twenty-two reported cases of warrantless home raids upon Latino victims in the town of Mount Kisco in Westchester Country, and Suffolk and Nassau Counties on Long Island. In addition to the settlement, they are being required to change their policies within a two-month span to avoid future abusive attacks on immigrant homes.

From here on out, ICE officers are now required to ask for permission (in the resident’s language) to enter a home, if they do not have a warrant to do so. These new rules also prohibit officers from surrounding immigrant homes without the residents’ consent.

“Immigrants across the country can stand up and cheer for what has been accomplished by this settlement,” announced President of Latino Justice PRLDEF. “No longer will ICE agents have free reign to invade the homes of immigrants, especially Latino immigrants, and be as abusive as they want without any worry that they might be reprimanded.”

The Adriana Aguilar et al. v. ICE case states that ICE agents would, without consent of any form, surround victims’ homes with up to ten armed agents – all warrantless – combing out undocumented and illegal immigrants.

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Adriana Aguilar states that she was “very content and proud of the settlement,” but having to wash away the memories of armed agents raiding the home of her family may take more than just a settlement to dissipate. “My husband had left for work at 2:00 am,” says Adriana to reporters. “I only heard very loud yelling, everything was dark and the first thing that came to mind was an accident or that the house was one fire. I was very confused.”

According to a press statement from the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represented the plaintiffs of a particular case, a Latino home was invaded and searched (without warrant or consent) twice, with ICE agents seeking out a man that the family didn’t know. Along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, this family was also represented by Winston & Strawn and LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

“On April 4, 2013, the Court endorsed the parties’ settlement providing for ICE to pay our 22 plaintiffs $1 million in damages and fees;” states the official site for the Center for Constitution Rights. “…To provide national policy and training memoranda regarding the manner in which ICE conducts home operations; and to provide immigration benefits for several plaintiffs.”

To say it’s a shame that events like these have been allowed this long is an understatement. It’s 2013, in one of the most civilized nations on the planet, and there are homes – homes with families and children – in which raids by armed gunmen are still a reality to be feared. Needless to say, this is more than just a settlement. This is a huge step forward for the civil rights of immigrants everywhere.

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Source: Huffingtonpost, “ICE Settlement For $1 Million Requires New Guidelines For Warrantless Home Raids
April 5, 2013

Source: ccrjustice.org, “Aguilar, et al. v. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), et al.

Source: ccrjustice.org, “ECF Case 07 Civ. 8224 (KBF)

Source: Huffingtonpost, “ICE Agrees to New Regulations in Warrantless Raid Settlement” Manuel E. Avendano,
April 9, 2013

Why Immigration Reform

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We’ve been hearing about it left and right as it floods the headlines in both political and immigration news. What is immigration reform and why is it so important this month? Why should we care? Who does it affect? The truth is, this legislative decision has an impact on all U.S. citizens, both socially and economically. The decision that stands before Congress is one of the most pivotal in nearly three decades.

This year, Congress is expected to follow through on a promise that has been made regarding their stance on the approximate 11 million undocumented immigrants residing within our borders. A bipartisan group of eight senators (the “Gang of Eight”) began their investigation as they headed to the border last week to witness the issue first hand, and negotiate a solution to the matter. These negotiations have been heated in the recent months, and now our nation turns to Congress for the decision they guaranteed years ago.

Why is now such an important time to handle this problem, when we’ve had immigration issues for years? Former President George W. Bush attempted to solve the matter by changing the system and did not succeed. President Barack Obama guaranteed us a solution during his first term, but we were left in the dark. This time around, Obama has promised that immigration reform is a priority in 2013, and Republicans are on the same page. Why is this such a priority (despite the fact that it’s long overdue)? 71 percent of Hispanic voters supported President Obama in 2012; to say that he owes them is an understatement. This election also spoke volumes to Republicans a problem like this can no longer be ignored.

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The “Gang of Eight”’s main objective is addressing four main issues: how to handle the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country, how to improve the legal immigration system, how to keep businesses from employing undocumented workers, and how to tighten border security. President Barack Obama is creating his own plan in the event that congressional talks fail, drafting legislation as well.

With a recorded 40.4 million immigrants living in the nation (13 percent of the whole population), the United States holds rank as the number-one destination for immigrants, just above Russia. Nearly a third of that 40.4 million are illegal immigrants, according to a private research organization. Despite the fact that immigration has slowly risen in the U.S., 2007 marks an all-time high in numbers of people living in the U.S. illegally.

So where exactly are immigrants coming from? 29 percent of all United States immigrants come from Mexico (roughly 11 million), followed by South and East Asia (25 percent), the Caribbean (9 percent), Central America (8 percent), South America (7 percent), the Middle East (4 percent), and the rest is comprised of elsewhere. However, if you were to tally up the nations illegal immigrants, the percentages differ greatly with an estimated 58 percent from Mexico, followed by El Salvador, at a surprising 6 percent.

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The handling of this issue is long overdue, and April may very well be the time that so many years have been leading up to. With over half of the Mexican population seeking a better life in the U.S., over 11 million of whom live in fear of deportation, and the economic and business beneficial factors to be derived, this reform no doubt has headlines buzzing. As it comes down to the wire, citizens and immigrants alike watch in anticipation for an outcome that will have an impact on us all.

Source: Huffingtonpost, “Immigration And Immigration Reform Explained, Everything Needed To Understand The Issue” Nancy Benac,
April 6, 2013

Standing For What’s Right

Immigration reform activists have scheduled a large rally in Washington, D.C. this Wednesday, demanding immediate action regarding immigration reform. There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States.

Mother of five Rosa Maria Soto spent the last decade hiding her immigration status in Arizona after her family-owned shop in Mexico was robbed at gunpoint. Returning with her family is not a lesser evil than hiding in America, fearing deportation. Soto is just one of the 11 million people that this reform would have a pivotal effect on.

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Since Arizona’s tough 2010 immigration law was passed, Soto has had the courage to stand up for herself as well as for many others. She is currently the head of an organization known as Parents in Youth and Action, which advocates fighting for the rights of immigrants.

“I can’t stay with my eyes closed knowing that there are many families that are suffering,” says Soto to VOXXI, regarding her involvement in PYA. “I think it’s very unjust to see how children, instead of simply having to worry about going to school and playing, are worried about their parents being deported.”

This reform impacts not only those who made the decision to live here, but their children and loved ones as well. Constant fear of being deported should not be hanging over a child’s head.

Rally For Citizenship In Washington DC

This Wednesday, Soto will stand amidst thousands fighting for the same cause. The rally is being called the Rally for Citizenship. It is currently scheduled to commence at 3:30 pm on the U.S. Capitol Building’s west lawn.

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Soto will be joined by many others—like her, people from Arizona—who will tell their stories and urge Congress to vote in favor of immigration reform.
“We know that we have to show our faces so that politicians know that there are a lot of people who want to see an immigration reform passed,” Soto told VOXXI.

The last time an immigration rally of this magnitude occurred was April 10th, 2006. It was the world’s largest nationwide day of protest, and this Wednesday marks its anniversary. On April 10th seven years ago, our nation was flooded with thousands upon thousands of advocates marching in protest to a legislation that (if passed) would have significantly raised penalties for illegal immigrants. This Wednesday, approximately fifty national organizations will participate, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), National Education Association, United Farm Workers of America, Interfaith Immigration Coalition, and CASA de Maryland.

Communications specialist at CASA de Maryand Mate Vladar says that this Wednesday’s rally is supposed to “remind member of Congress that we are still here, waiting for the promises that were made to us about immigration reform.”

Participants to ask Congress to deliver on immigration reform

“We’re going to ensure that we visit as many congressional offices as possible so that Congress members and their staff can see that these are real people,” says Diana Tellefson Torres, vice president of the UFW, to VOXXI. “They are people who have come here for a better life. They have families and are like every single one of us.”

Source: Huffingtonpost, “Rally For Citizenship Planned For Wednesday In Washington DC” Griselda Nevarez,
April 8th, 2013

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Cost of Immigration and Update on Gang Of Eights Decision

The seven various cabinet agencies that control the U.S. Immigration System receives more than half a billion requests annually, according to a study by the American Action Forum (AAF). This results in an endless sea of paperwork that’s costing these immigrants approximately $30 billion every year.

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The clerical effort that goes into one individual’s immigration process is costly, both in time and money. One immigrant spends about 20 hours total—nearly one whole day—filling out immigration paperwork. And each immigrant spends an estimated $2,500 throughout the immigration process. According to a study done by AAF, there are roughly 234 different types of immigration forms, and 98.8 million hours each year go into filling them out.

So how much is this costing us? According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $5.9 billion annually. Some economists believe that granting immigrants immediate citizenship may improve our economy by fostering $1.4 trillion in economic growth via increased tax revenue and job growth.

“Few doubt that our current immigration system is in need of reform,” says BLS. “Thankfully, many agree that our regulatory state needs an overhaul as well.”

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In other news, the “Gang of Eight” have reached an agreement this week regarding the immigration reform. Their legislation is intended to tighten border security and to put 11 million undocumented immigrants onto a path for citizenship.

But at least one member of the Gang of Eight doesn’t classify the group’s headway as an agreement. “Reports that the bipartisan group of eight senators have agreed on a legislative proposal are premature,” says Florida senator Marco Rubio. “We will need a healthy public debate that includes committee hearings.”

Many members of Congress support providing the United States’ 11 million undocumented immigrants with a route to citizenship, but the potential easiness or complication of that route is a matter of debate. According to some political reports, the possibility of having illegal immigrants go before a judge and plead guilty to breaking immigration laws is also under consideration. And despite lawmakers agreeingthat immigrants should pay some amountwhen pursuing a path to citizenship, there is still debate as to how much that amount should be.

The bipartisan group of eight senators all agree that the border’s security must be tightened before any further action is taken, but what that means specifically is still unclear. The bill will be signed this month, but no action will be taken by lawmakers until April 9th when they return from a ten-day Easter recess.

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Source: Huffingtonpost, “U.S. Immigration Regulation Costs $30 Billion Annually: Study” Caroline Fairchild,
April 4th, 2013

Source: Huffingtonpost, “mmigration Deal Reached By ‘Gang Of Eight’” Updated: April 1st, 2013 – McCain Gang of Eights

SEIU Immigration Ad Debuts

This week, The Service Employee’s International Union (SEIU) will begin debuting the ads into which they have poured $300,000. The ads advocate a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“Throughout America’s history, our economy has been strengthened by the contributions of immigrant workers,” states SEIU’s website (link below). “We now have an opportunity for Congress to work together in a bi-partisan fashion to rebuild our immigration system so that it honors American values, strengthens the economy, and supports working families. SEIU members are calling on Congress to pass commonsense immigration reform now.”

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According to last week’s Public Religion Research Institute’s poll, the majority of Americans (63%) favor the kinds of reforms that John McCain’s “Gang of Eight” is working on. The measure proposes a 13-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“Congress should get the message that the American public is ready for immigration reform,” says Mary Kay Henry, the president of SEIU. “Generations of workers and determined families from all walks of life have continuously contributed to our society and economy. Together, we have proven that America works best when we all do our part together.”

The announced ads are set to air over the upcoming week on “the most-watched cable news programs,” according to press.

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Source: Huffingtonpost, “SEIU Immigration Ad Debuts, Calls For Pathway To Citizenship” Elise Foley,
March 26th, 2013