The presidential election is igniting once again the immigration reform debate and, with it, the continuing argument on how to describe a community of more than 11 million people who live and work in the United States.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney used the phrase “undocumented illegals” in the second debate when describing what’s been dubbed as his “self-deportation” policy.

The New York Times and Associated Press have been criticized for defending their use of the term illegal immigrant. The New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan explains, “It is clear and accurate; it gets its job done in two words that are easily understood.”

The Associated Press’ deputy managing editor for standards and production, Tom Kent, supports the use of illegal immigrant because “…such people are here in violation of the law. It’s simply a legal reality.”

Pulitzer prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who last year described himself as undocumented, disputes the use of illegal as “offensive and inaccurate because it criminalizes people rather than their actions.”

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