June 19, 2018

Immigration has been a contentious topic for much of U.S. history, but Donald Trump’s presidential policies have led to fierce debate since his inauguration.

From Trump’s early insistence on a southern border wall and “travel ban” on Muslim countries to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ tough stance on immigration and policy of separating immigrant parents and their children, immigration is a major issue in 2018.

Here are resources for reporters who are covering immigration. Got something you think we should add? Email us.

Resources for data

Resources for interviews

Additional Resources

Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma


Twitter/Reporter Lists

Tip Sheets

AP Style

Illegal immigration: Entering or residing in a country without authorization in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission.

Do not use the terms alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented (except when quoting people or government documents that use these terms).

Do not describe people as violating immigration laws without attribution.

Specify wherever possible how someone entered the country illegally and from where. Crossed the border? Overstayed a visa? What nationality?

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: The investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE is acceptable on second reference.

Border Patrol: Part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. Capitalize Border Patrol in all references to the U.S. agency.

Customs: Capitalize in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and in U.S. Customs and Border Protection, both agencies of the Department of Homeland Security. Lowercase elsewhere: a customs official, a customs ruling, she went through customs. Customs and Border Patrol are not interchangeable. Border Patrol agents provide law enforcement at the border; customs agents staff ports of entry at the border and airports.

Other definitions

Central America includes Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

North America includes Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Continental South America includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela and French Guiana, which is a part of France.

This guide was updated on March 9, 2020, to remove a link to a data resource that does not meet Poynter’s standards.

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