"Illegals" no; "undocumented" yes
LAist is an avid consumer of news media, the kind that comes in papers, on the internets, TV and, this LAist-er especially, ye olde NPR. We like that NPR ain't no Fox News: no diatribes, no right-wing harangues. So we were taken aback by the rampant use of "illegals" in NPR's coverage of yesterday's immigration rallies and marches.
NAHJ is particularly troubled with the growing trend of the news media to use the word “illegals” as a noun, shorthand for "illegal aliens." Using the word in this way is grammatically incorrect and crosses the line by criminalizing the person, not the action they are purported to have committed. NAHJ calls on the media to never use “illegals” in headlines.
People aren't illegal, acts are. Imagine if everyone who did something illegal became an illegal — that guy who smoked marijuana, anyone who had a little too much to drink and got behind the wheel, the guys who got rich while cheating thousands of stockholders — we're a nation of people who break the law. Some of us have residency papers, others don't. That's where "undocumented" comes in.
"Undocumented" is, in fact, the standard at the LA Times and New York Times; the papers use the word "undocumented" to describe people who are residents without legal standing. And LAist does, too.