On December 15, USA TODAY ran an article titled "Groups try to delay deportations of illegal students," in which they called young immigrant students in the United States "illegal students."
UPDATE: On December 21, after more than 500 letters from all of you at Change.org, USA TODAY took a step and changed the phrase to "illegal immigrant students" as if that is more acceptable to call immigrant students 'illegal.' This forces the issue into a longer campaign and the need for mainstream media to re-evaluate their policies in referring to immigrants. At the same time, this subtle change tells us that a few hundred emails and calls have the power to drive change.
Where does this madness (not to mention inaccuracy) of calling people illegal due to their immigration staus, end?
The use of the word illegal to describe young people seeking the right to stay in the United States speaks volumes about the absurdity of labeling out-of-status human beings as "illegal." But no student and no human being can be illegal.
I am asking you to stand up with me. Don't be afraid and do not let anyone label you, your family, friends, students and an entire community of disenfranchised people as "illegal."
1. Sign the petition email below to tell USA TODAY to stop competing with our archaic immigration system and get with the program. No human being can be illegal.
2. After that, start tweeting, digging, sending it to your friends and cross-posting this to your blogs.
3. And calls are important. Fill their voicemail boxes up!
Heidi Zimmerman, Director/Communications, (703) 854-5304
Alex Nicholson, Manager/Communications, 703-854-5872
Brent Johns, Accuracy Editor, 703-854-3454
John Hillkirk, Executive Editor, (703) 854-3728, firstname.lastname@example.org
While we appreciate the change from the extremely offensive "illegal students," the community of immigrant youth have yet to receive an apology for that slander.
Furthermore, USA TODAY does not help foster a climate for any real debate on immigration reform if it keeps resorting to slurs like "illegal immigrant" to refer to undocumented students caught in the immigration quagmire through no fault of their own.
This vile and hateful use of one word is setting a bad precedent for anything USA Today needs from the immigrant community in the near future. And that helps no one.
I am asking you to take the following steps in order to rectify this issue:
1. Publish an apology and retraction. Do NOT refer to undocumented youth as 'illegal' in new creative ways.
2. Cease and desist on this inaccurate and hateful use of "illegal students"
3. Strongly reconsider using the word 'illegal' to refer to immigrants
I hope you take this into consideration.