By Ricky Garza, Communications Department, NCLR
Four months ago, I argued that it was time for the media to stop using the term “illegal immigrant,” noting the shift toward the more accurate and neutral “undocumented immigrant” by several mainstream sources including the Huffington Post, NBC, and ABC. Today, I’m happy to announce that Ezra Klein, prominent MSNBC pundit and political reporter for the Washington Post, has joined this group in rejecting the “I word.”
After spilling much ink defending his use of “illegal immigrant” to denote Americans who reside here without papers, Klein has apparently shifted his stance and begun using “undocumented” today, without comment or explanation. In an analysis of President Obama’s State of the Union address, Klein says that a full realization of Obama’s agenda would result in a markedly different America:
“Taxes would be higher, guns would be harder to come by, and undocumented immigrants would have a path to citizenship.”
This did not happen without good reason. For years now, dedicated Latino bloggers have emailed political reporters at the Post and the New York Times, marshaled opinions from practicing lawyers, and demonstrated the word’s offensive and dehumanizing effect. It’s great news that the pundit class seems to be taking notice.
By choosing to embrace the term, Klein is positioning himself on the right side of history and demonstrating a commitment to the inherent value of immigrants beyond their legal status. At this moment, legislation is being crafted to allow undocumented immigrants to become citizens in a revamped legal process. This is the path we are headed down.
As a rising media star in Washington, Ezra Klein is a political trendsetter with the ability to shift the conservation. He manages the most read blog on the Washington Post website and was named one of the 50 most powerful people in Washington by GQ magazine. His decision to drop the word will hopefully influence other holdouts to do the same.
I applaud Ezra Klein on his newfound rejection of the dehumanization inherent in calling people illegal, and I strongly hope the rest of the Washington Post staff follow his good example. The tide is turning in favor of respecting immigrants of all statuses. The addition of Klein to this list is surely a welcome development.