“It makes some immigrants more deserving and others undeserving—and there’s a lot of dangers to that,” says Ju Hong. Hong, who was born in South Korea, made national headlines in 2013 when he interrupted then-President Barack Obama during a speech in San Francisco.

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“You have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country,” Hong shouted at Obama.

Hong came to the U.S. on a tourist visa at the age of 11. Once his visa expired, he became undocumented. Because he entered the country at a young age, he can take advantage of programs that protect young immigrants from deportation, like DACA. His sister, however, was 16 when she came to the U.S., making her ineligible for federal protections.

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After Hong interrupted Obama, Fusion interviewed him and published a story that identified him as a DREAMer in the headline. But Hong doesn’t identify as such.

“I don’t use the word DREAMer,” Hong says. “I’m very intentional about what I say so I can be more inclusive, so that people who don’t fit that narrative feel like their voices are heard.”

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The AP sometimes uses the term “dreamers” in quotes. The AP Stylebook, widely adopted in newsrooms across the globe, advises reporters to avoid the terms “DREAMer” or “Dreamer” only when referring to young immigrants with DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the administrative program introduced in 2012 that provides temporary protection from deportation to some young immigrants.

Going forward, Splinter will no longer identify young undocumented immigrants as DREAMers. Instead, our style guide urges writers to ask more precise questions and articulate the subject’s immigration history in the story.

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We suggest terms like “young undocumented immigrant” or “unauthorized immigrant” or similar, noting that it’s especially important that “Splinter does not reinforce false notions that some immigrants are more or less worthy of human recognition and consideration for legalization.”

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In recent years, some young people with DACA have adopted the term “DACAmented” to describe their status, though it has yet to be widely adopted.

Some young, undocumented immigrants still support the term and identify as DREAMers. The Splinter style guide leaves room for that, too. We will always defer to an individual’s preference for identification, as long as it’s factually accurate.

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Hong says, “Now more than ever we shouldn’t use [DREAMer] because it’s becoming more divisive.”

“Rewarding certain individuals and punishing others based on characteristics is not right,” says Hong. “We cannot throw people under the bus.”

Moving Beyond "DREAMers" and the "good vs. bad immigrant" narrative

Update: This post was updated to clarify that the DREAM Act requirements mentioned originate from the 2011 version of the proposal.

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This post is part of Splinter’s series on our house style guide, a living document spearheaded by senior copy editor Daniel King and crowdsourced from editorial staff across our teams for input on words’ accuracy. Reach us at styleguide@splinternews.com.