The New York Times public editor and readers’ representative, Margaret Sullivan recently deliberated on the i-word and decided she was for keeping it. In a span of a few days she read through multiple reasons and a compelling case delivered by leading linguists, scholars, lawyers, readers from across the country, the Drop the I-Word campaign, Times editorial board member, Lawrence Downes and Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas who kicked off the conversation with her a little more than a year after coming out as undocumented (not as “illegal”) in the pages of the Times.
Sullivan weighed in saying that she sees “no advantage for Times readers in a move away from the paper’s use of the phrase ‘illegal immigrant.’” She said “It is clear and accurate; it gets its job done in two words that are easily understood. The same cannot be said of the most frequently suggested alternatives — ‘unauthorized,’ ‘immigrants without legal status,’ ‘undocumented.’ She said this, all after linguists and attorneys have weighed in with expertise on the opposite. Now, in a welcome and exciting turn, colleagues in the field of journalism are calling out the Times, too.