More Immigration Newspeak: Associated Press Edition

By Robert Law on March 29, 2021

Words matter. Open-borders advocates know this and have spent decades obscuring their policy intentions by replacing accurate terminology with concocted, sympathetic terms. The most glaring example of course is the use of "undocumented" when referring to illegal aliens. Immigration law violators don’t lack documents; they lack permission to be in the country.

Under the Biden administration, even benign, technical legal terms like “alien” are under attack as “dehumanizing”. As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, the statutory definition of “alien” is found at section 101(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act as, “The term ‘alien’ means any person not a citizen or national of the United States.” Are persons not human?

But now the absurdity has crept into the general English language to describe real-world events in the immigration space. A record number of illegal aliens are being apprehended at the border, and the numbers keep growing, but the Biden administration, led by DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, refuse to call the situation a crisis. Instead, they want the American people to believe that it is merely a "challenge".

If that is not enough, the use of “surge” or “wave” to describe the record number of illegal aliens apprehended at the border may soon become a faux pas. A recent Washington Post op-ed makes the case, claiming “Such dehumanization is dangerous and serves only to sensationalize the moment”.

Normally, I would not be concerned about the English-language sensitivities of a random op-ed contributor, but that author claims to have a supporter in John Daniszewski, the vice president and editor at large for standards at the Associated Press (AP). The op-ed writer claims to have spoken with Daniszewski who agreed that the use of “surge” or “breaching” in AP articles describing the Biden border crisis were “mistakes” and “an element of human error”. The op-ed writer then proceeds to quote an internal AP memo he claims is close to becoming official guidance:

“Because migration is such a hot-button issue, we also should try to avoid imagery conjuring war or natural disaster, which could portray migrants as a negative, harmful influence," the memo says. "Avoid emotive words like onslaught, tidal wave, flood, inundation, surge, invasion, army, march, sneak and stealth.”

If true, this is outrageous. The situation at the border is a crisis. Large numbers of illegal aliens trying to enter the United States is harmful, both economically as well as for health reasons while Covid-19 continues to be a public health threat. "Surge" or "flood" are accurate metaphors for the record numbers of illegal aliens.

Those who try to wordsmith their way around facts lack credibility. The public deserves to be presented with an accurate picture of the situation by both politicians and the media. If the border crisis is actually a positive thing, as many on the left seem to believe, then why go to such lengths to dictate how the situation should be described?