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Illegal vs. undocumented: Howie Carr's bogus beef

Since I occasionally let my Sunday Herald mellow for a day, I only just discovered Howie Carr's critique of the Globe's Dec. 1 expose on the illegal/undocumented immigrants/workers who keep Mitt Romney's Belmont lawn nice and spiffy. Here's the crux of Carr's complaint, which involves an alleged Globe terminological double standard:
How do you turn a noble undocumented worker into a sinister, conniving illegal immigrant?

You do it by hiring him to cut the lawn at Gov. Mitt Romney’s house, or at least that’s how the bow-tied bumkissers at The Boston Globe pulled it off.

The phrase that is usually frowned upon by the Globe - illegal immigrants - was used 11 times in a front-page story Friday. Yesterday, those same dreaded “illegal immigrants” made it into the lead sentence of the follow-up story....

It’s all very confusing, but I think I have a rule of thumb.

If you get paid by a liberal Democrat, you’re an "undocumented worker."

If you get paid by a Republican, you’re an "illegal alien."

Comprende, amigo?

Hilarious! Unfortunately, though, Carr is full of shit.

This year, according to the NewsBank database, six Globe stories have featured "illegal immigrants" in their headlines; a seventh hed included "illegal immigrant." (Some examples: "Healey urges tougher stance on hiring illegal immigrants," by correspondent Russell Nichols; "150 illegal immigrants arrested in N.E. raids," by immigration reporter and Phoenix alum Yvonne Abraham; "Bills expose rift over illegal immigrants," by James Vaznis.) In contrast, "Undocumented workers" have been cited in just two heds, and "undocumented worker" in one.

Now let's look at general usage. Again searching NewsBank, I get 65 total instances of "undocumented workers" in the Globe, compared to 234 of "illegal immigrants." In his column, Carr suggests that the latter phrase usually pops up in a quote from some anti-illegal-immigration firebrand; in fact, you can find it used by reporters and columnists in stories carrying the bylines of Abraham, Scott Helman, Robert Turner, Brian Mooney, Frank Phillips, Joan Vennochi, and Lisa Wangsness, among others--as well as in the Globe's own endorsement of Patrick for governor.

Sorry, Howie.

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