Be wary of any meeting that starts with a linguistic debate. NPR editors launched this morning's session with the prickly issue of how to refer to individuals who have crossed the U.S. border without official documentation. Do we allow the shorthand of "illegal immigrants" or "illegal aliens"? Or is that demeaning? Should we only refer to them as "workers who have immigrated illegally"? Or is immigration the wrong word since many of these people return home? The NPR business desk pointed out that many of us already use other forms of the phrase: illegal loggers, illegal trappers, illegal downloaders, illegal hunters, and illegal builders.
We didn't come up with an official policy, but in true public radio fashion, we decided it was worth doing a story on the traps of language.
Other events we're covering today:
· A dramatic day at the Moussaoui trial as Rudy Giuliani takes the stand. A cockpit recording from Flight 93 may be played.
· In Houston, Jeff Skilling tries to blame others in the Enron trial.
· The President and Donald Rumsfeld both have speeches today.
· And Congress once again takes up the issue of illegal... er... undocumented... um... shall we just refer to them as uninvited guests?