‘Illegal Immigrant’ Debate: Univision Takes on the New York Times

Roque Planas, Huffington Post, October 8, 2012


The nation’s top-rated Spanish-language broadcast network took The New York Times to task last week in a series of articles on its English-language website, after The Times’ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan defended the paper’s decision to continue using the term “illegal immigrant,” in its pages and online. Sullivan explained her decision as a matter of accuracy. Univision pointed out that Latinos largely find the term offensive and intimated that The New York Times’ decision may have more to do with lack of diversity than journalistic ethics.

In a post to her blog on Oct. 2, Sullivan wrote that, after thinking about the debate for a couple weeks, she had sided against the term “undocumented.”

Just as “illegal tenant” in a real estate story (another phrase you could have seen in Times articles or headlines) is brief and descriptive, so is “illegal immigrant.” In neither case is there an implication that those described that way necessarily have committed a crime, although in some cases they may have. The Times rightly forbids the expressions “illegals” and “illegal aliens.”

Univision shot back in a series of articles critiquing Sullivan’s logic and portraying the paper as out-of-touch with Latinos.


In a separate post filed the same day titled “The Times Is Behind the Times,” Univision noted that media outlets that aim to reach Latino audiences keep away from the term “illegal immigrant.”

In many newsrooms where Latinos have a seat at the table, the term “illegal immigrant” has been dropped. NBC, which started NBC Latino this year, dropped the term. ABC, which is part of our new partnership with Univision, dropped the term. CNN, after making recent Latino hires, announced that they prefer to use “undocumented.” The Miami Herald and the San Antonio Express-News, which both have a large Hispanic readership, have dropped the term. Even Fox News, a cable channel viewed by the public to be the most conservative network in a 2009 Pew survey, took a step in the same direction when it dropped illegal in favor of “undocumented” on their Fox News Latino site.


Univision isn’t the only one pushing papers like The New York Times to change its position.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists launched a campaign to get newspapers to drop the term “illegal immigrant” back in 2006. “It is much easier to dehumanize and to silence somebody when you’re calling them an illegal,” then-Executive Director of NAHJ Ivan Roman told the American Journalism Review in 2010.

{snip} Almost half of likely Hispanic voters find the term “illegal immigrant” offensive, according to a Fox News Latino poll released this year.]


Sullivan does not set editorial policy for The New York Times, but as public editor her positions can influence style and language use decisions at the paper.


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  • The__Bobster

    Sullivan defended the paper’s decision to continue using the term “illegal immigrant,” in its pages and online. Sullivan explained her decision as a matter of accuracy.

    Since when was The Slimes concerned about accuracy?


    Univision pointed out that Latinos largely find the term offensive and intimated that The New York Times’ decision may have more to do with lack of diversity than journalistic ethics.


    I’m sure bank robbers find the term “bank robber” offensive, too. Maybe banks should hire more bank robbers to improve their “sensitivity”.

  • Puggg

    Univision shot back in a series of articles critiquing Sullivan’s logic and portraying the paper as out-of-touch with Latinos.

    Duh.  I don’t think many fresh-over-border Hispanics are subscribing to the New York Times.  This is why the media love immigration so much, because mass immigration doesn’t affect media jobs.  Except for that illegal alien Filipino named Vargas….who was just arrested for something, but ICE said “let ’em go.”

  • “Almost half of likely Hispanic voters find the term “illegal immigrant” offensive, according to a Fox News Latino poll released this year.”

    Oh the poor dears what a hardship.  I personally find the raising of the Mexican rag in the USA offensive.  I find $18 BILLION spent on ILLEGAL ALIEN INVADERS in CA offensive. 

    It’s pretty easy to see what is being done here.  All of the “1984” fans can see the NewSpeak writing on the wall.  Change the language, change what is considered acceptable and you alter thought and consciousness.

    As Stalin said “Ideas are more powerful than guns.  We would not let our enemies have guns, why would we let them have ideas?”

  • crystal evans

    As I have tried to tell people, illegal denotes immigration status, not people. Immigrant refers to the  person. They never complain about using the term legal immigrant.

    • The term “immigrant” implies legitimacy. The presence of these interlopers is in no way legitimate. They are foreign invaders and should be dealt with as such.

      • Black Swan

        Worse, they are colonists.  Their aim is to set up large colonies that reflect their values such as drunken driving, sloth, unemployment and living off of others.  Our biggest problem is a federal government that is okey-dokey with handing money and benefits over to them while they steal our homeland.

    • bluffcreek1967

      That’s a very good way of explaining it.


    If you did not see my previous post on an earlier article today I went to a small discussion 
    (30-40 people in a small room) about Illegal Immigration. The “think tank” was headed by Jose Antonio Vargas, a homosexual illegal immigrant. Basically he talked about what our attitudes should be towards illegal immigrants and immigrants in general. As expected, I was the only non cultural-marxist-drone in attendance. After he had a small introduction he opened up to questions from the group. I cited the negative economic impact of illegal immigrants ($100B annual tax burden, higher crime rates of NEAM’s, and the correlation between a country’s iq and  economic strength). I was summarily greeted with gasps and emotional hate. Mr. Vargas proceeded to “refute my claims” (for which I provided sources) and did not allow me to respond the rest of the 75 minute discussion. The solidarity of the rest of the attendees against me was quite cute. After the even ended I approached the “Diversity Coordinator” of my residence hall in attendance and inquired about her interest in a debate on diversity. She seemed a bit open to it so I just emailed her to further explore the possibility. 

    This is the first time I have ever been open in person about my race realist views and I was very nervous to “come out of the closet”. However, now I feel incredibly confident and manly for having done so (whether these feelings warranted or not). 

    The school I go to is UW-Madison for those curious.

    • itdoesnotmatter

       Many many snaps to you, Mike, for speaking up to a proselytizing Marxist *illegal alien* at UW-Madison, the infamous Berkeley of the Midwest. 
      And, as Berkeley, [the venue of my inculcation], Madison is much beloved by liberals as a bastion of TRUTH and unbiased critical thought.
      I feel your pain. If you were here, I’d hug ya. [It’s OK, I’m female.]

      *In California, fed up, awakened realists call them illegal aliens

      • Black Swan

        “In California, the FEW, fed up, awakened realists call them illegal aliens.”

        —Kudos to mike, and watch your back.  If lefties and nonwhites can’t shout you down or shut up up, they’ll physically attack you and push for your expulsion from Indoctrination U.

    • ViktorNN

      Good job Mike! Don’t forget that there are millions of us who support you. You’re not alone even if it feels that way sometimes.

    • John Bonham

       Excellent , kudos to you .. Just really have one thing to ask ( because I applaud everything you did)  Did you find it amazing how many white people there were against their own interests ?
      If they had just one brain cell and realized that they’re actually in favor of genocide of their own people, do you think they would have greeted you with gasps and emotional hate ??
      Anyway , Good job , and sorry for the extra question . 

      • The outrage was mostly from the white females (very unattractive mind you) and the rest of the minority crowd. There were probably 4-5 white males in attendance. As with most cultural marxist white men, they were clearly beta males. It’s a real shame they have fallen for the egalitarian propaganda but such is likely with weak willed men. Note that these guys went out of their way to attend this event. They are not your average white male. I mean one of them cheered along when Mr. Vargas claimed that whites will soon be the minority in the U.S. and that we need to learn to “deal with  it”.

    • Tom_in_Miami

      I’m amazed you had the cojones to come out of the closet right in the middle of a hornet’s nest like that.  Good for you.  If we start doing this openly, we will win.

    • .

      I respect your courage. But I’ll give you the same advice I’d give my own son. You’re  there to learn and establish your credentials for a career and/or grad school. Anything that gets in the way of that is not a good use of your time and energy. If you take a “C” or “D” because some marxist professor wants to get back at you then you’ve lost more than you’ve gained.

      Pardon me if that sounds negative or critical. I think you showed outstanding courage and motivation in what you did. You clearly have the right stuff. But you’re better off networking with like minded people for positive change than arguing with idiots. Cast not your pearls before swine or, as I like to say, you can’t reach radicals with reason.

      • There are probably only 2-3 classes the rest of my entire college life where an ideological difference may affect my grade. These are the required to graduate classes (ethnic studies, comm B, etc). Everything else is going to be a math, programming, or foreign language class. So I’m not worried about a professor acting childish and giving me a grade I don’t deserve.

  • The term illegal invaders is more apt…

  • jedsrael

    The term “illegal immigrant” is a MSM agit prop scam.

    Why should we consider them “immigrants” when they are invading foreign aliens?MSM trains us how to think, and we will extinguish the word “illegal” as soon as some White boys beat up a wet back and shout “racial slurs, including the hate term ‘illegal alien’ “.

    Americans always surrender their instints to “the Other” as soon as one of our own hurts the sacred Diversity pets.

  • Actually, I think illegal alien is the correct term, because foreigners legally in the United States — such as those on non-expired tourist and student visas, are legal aliens, not immigrants.  Unless I’m mistaken, “immigrants” must have a special immigrant visa to be called such.  “Illegal immigrant” is arguably an oxymoron, because if you don’t have that visa, you’re not an immigrant, and if you do have that visa, you’re not illegal.

    The euphemism treadmill may also be kicking in here.  I recently saw a re-run of the 1970’s sitcom Maude, where the arch-liberal title character referred to “illegal aliens” as “illegal aliens”, whereas today the scriptwriters would probably have had her say “undocumented immigrant.”

  • MekongDelta69

    The Times rightly forbids the expressions ‘illegals’ and ‘illegal aliens.’

    And sooner or later, the effete elite, limousine leftist Slimes will fold like a cheap suit and “rightly forbid” the expressions ‘illegal immigrants’ or ‘undocumented immigrants.’

    They’ll just save the time it gradually has taken for the left to take over the (former) English language, and call all illegal aliens, ‘Nobel Prize Winners.’

  • Univisión is owned by Israeli Jewish magnate Haim Saban.

  • MartelC

    Classic leftist thinking – change the language and change reality. Next it will be “why are you racists denying undocumented migrants their right to documentation?” 

    The left has been in a battle with the truth from the beginning and slowly Americans live in a society and economy entirely based on lies and bound to collapse. 

  • I like history, quotes and proverbs. I have read that Hitler referred to the Jews as “Wandering Parasites”.  My father used to say “If the shoe fits wear it”.

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    “It is much easier to dehumanize and to silence somebody when you’re calling them an illegal” 

    They must think their constituency is pretty stupid. I mean, I sure wouldn’t want to come to a place where I would be insulted, “discriminated against,” and “dehumanized,” would you? 

    It also makes you wonder what kind of a wreck they’re coming from, and how it got that way. They sure must have made a mess of their homeland to want to come here and risk such horrible “discrimination.”

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    “The nation’s top-rated Spanish-language broadcast network took The New York Times to task last week…and intimated that The New York Times’ decision may have more to do with lack of diversity than journalistic ethics.”

    NY Slimes vs. a Spanish language network?

    Uber Lefty vs. Uber Lefty??  This one’s easy:

    Never interfere with your enemies while they’re destroying themselves!!


  • Si no le gusta ser llamado ilegal, no entrar en los Estados Unidos ilegalmente.

    • Tom_in_Miami

      I wish I could repeat that in Arabic.

  • Harumphty_Dumpty

    And do away with the nasty term “drug dealer.” The proper term is “undocumented pharmacist.”

    • rightrightright

      And forged papers are undocumented documents.  

      • Tom_in_Miami

        And they say that conservatives have no sense of humor!  I’m cracking up…

  • bluffcreek1967

    Hispanic activists want to tone down all the terms used in the immigration debate because they recognize that the words one uses not only sets the agenda, but also helps to soften any opposition. Hispanics want to ‘humanize’ the illegal immigration problem and, thereby, gain sympathy from the American public. The problem is that there are too many soft-headed Whites who will fall prey to this line of reasoning and deception.

  • Stephen Manning

    Illegal immigrant. Unlawful invader. Alien intruder. Go head, Paco, be offended. 

  • ViktorNN

    They are foreigners who are living in this country illegally, they’re people who shouldn’t be living in this country, they’re foreign squatters. Now, which terms describe them better “illegal immigrants” or “undocumented?”

    • Tom_in_Miami

      Latinos largely find the term “illegal immigrant” offensive, so I think you’ve hit on the right combination of words.  To borrow from you, Viktor, I suggest that “Illegal foreign squatters” fills the bill perfectly.

  • I wish I had read this sooner.

    Margaret Sullivan was, until very recently, the editor of the Buffalo News. She effectively shut down frees speech on the Buffalo News online paper.

    Had this NYTs policy not been the policy of the NYTs, Ms. Sullivan would have capitulated in a heartbeat and apologized without end.

  • …and people still have the nerve to say those Not-Very-Legal “Immigrants” come to this country with a good work ethic, respect for our nation, respect for our laws, and respect for our American culture and heritage.

  • Sloppo

    If the term “illegal aliens” is too dehumanizing perhaps we should use the term “illegal human alien invaders”.  I know it’s a bit wordy, but at least it’s not dehumanizing.  

  • Kronolog

    Calling an illegal immigrant an “undocumented immigrant” is like calling a prisoner a “non-free citizen”: Technically true, but it is an irrelevant and deceiving expression unless the reason is specified.  

  • However, the hispanic “activist” always quick to remind us that illegal invaders “come
    from all over the world.” If so, why is it that hispanics are always the ones
    offended and most vocal in opposition of our immigration laws? Face it; the
    substantial majority of illegal invaders squatting in this country are from mexico.

    This has nothing to do with “immigration” and everything to do with an active
    invasion perpetrated by mexico and their brethren raza within our country.

  • jedsrael

    Student protest disrupts Regents meeting


    Dreamers protest disrupts peaceable assembly, law and governance, and White privilege

  • Jay11

    The latinos I know are really emotional about this issue, and protest that “People are not illegal” and all that.  They support 100% saying “Undocumented.”

    But that is not an accurate term.  They all have ‘documents’ from their home countries.  They are here without permission.  So they are here illegally. 

    I mostly gave up hope on the NYT a long time ago.  This was an unexpected decision on their part.

    • They are emotional about it because it’s their raza invading this country. They are racists.

  • zWsA

    The way events are unfolding in America, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to citizenship status will soon be replaced by “illegal pride.” Their illegal status won’t only be tolerated; it will be celebrated! In a state of delusion, we tend to embrace things that contradict logic and reason.

  • Gilbert Jacobi

    We know the religio/ethnicity the majority of the Times’ readership, and we know that this group is heavily represented in the legal profession.  Hence, it makes sense that the Times should continue to include the word illegal, since it is from this categorization that much of their constituents’ business flows; check out the names of the majority of immigration law firms.  Thus we see how their economic interests will trump current infatuation with liberal notions and the desire to seem down with the browns.