News organizations have been banning use of the words “illegals” or “illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant” by their writers because of political pressure and post-American bias. But the ostensible reason is greater accuracy. The goal, as the Los Angeles Times put it, was to “provide relevance and context and to avoid labels.”
One of the results of requiring long, unwieldy substitutes (“immigrants who have entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas”) is that the resulting headlines, which are by nature brief, end up being false. I don’t mean they convey less information or can’t tell the full story — headlines are always thus. I mean they are lying to the reader about the substance of the story they purport to describe.
Ah, but then you read the story and find out it’s not immigrants for whom the bill would ease licensing rules, but rather people who don’t have Social Security numbers — i.e., for that subset of immigrants who are here illegally, and even then only for the subset of illegals without SSNs (foreign workers and most foreign students are issued SSNs, which remain valid even if they overstay and become illegals).
The paper version of The Hill does the same thing today on this story, whose inside jump headline is “Dems disagree over immigrant soldiers.” But the story isn’t about the treatment of those members of the armed forces who happened to have been born abroad — it’s about whether to allow illegal aliens to enlist at all (and thus get amnestied).