Apprehensive About 'Apprehensions' (And 'Crisis' And 'Record')

Listeners and readers raise concerns about the language used to talk about what's happening at the Southwestern border.
Central American migrants stand at the U.S.-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas. The migrants turned themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol agents, seeking political asylum in the United States. Source: John Moore

The language used to describe immigration is one of the most common topics of concern when we hear from NPR listeners and readers. That's no surprise, really, given the rapidly evolving nature of what is happening at the Southwest border and the way some words ("crisis" and "illegal" come to mind) have been marshaled for political ends.

Advocates on both sides of the immigration issue want to paint the situation in stark terms for their own purposes. But, of course, that's not NPR's role. Its reporting should (and does) strive to present the information as factually and fairly as possible, so listeners and readers can make up their own minds about the issues discussed.


The word "apprehensions" (and its verb form, "apprehended") is one word sparking some recent debate.

When U.S. Customs and Border Protection releases its monthly reports about the number of migrants they are processing at the Southwest border, the official statistic is referred to as "apprehensions and inadmissibles."

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