The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) voted on Tuesday to recommend that newsrooms across the country discontinue using the phrases "illegal alien" and "illegal immigrant." SPJ concluded that only a court of law can determine whether an act is illegal and therefore using such terms in this sense are both incorrect and insensitive.
The resolution was announced at the Excellence in Journalism convention in New Orleans by SPJ's Diversity Committee. Originally, the Resolutions Committee denied their request to recommend newsrooms discontinue using these terms and told advocates for such a resolution to consult the Associated Press' styleguide committee.
When the Diversity Committee began advocating for newsrooms to discontinue describing undocumented immigrants as "illegal aliens" and "illegal immigrants," they were met with some opposition and sparked a debate on whether or not the term is actually offensive.