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<WC1>Now that it has dropped the term <WC>"<WC1>illegal immigrant<WC>"<WC1> from its stylebook, <WC>t<WC1>he Associated Press should admit its mistake and print a correction.

This change isn't about<WC> <WC1>journalism. It's about political correctness. The two should not<WC> <WC1>mix.

Even the official explanation by AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll is incomprehensible. In a blog post, Carroll wrote: <WC>"<WC1>The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term <WC>'<WC1>illegal immigrant' or the use of <WC>'<WC1>illegal' to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that <WC>'<WC1>illegal' should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.<WC>"<WC1> If you're scratching your head right now, you're not alone. Carroll's explanation is as convoluted as they come. It mixes together — in one big rhetorical stew — nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. You can say someone immigrated illegally but you can't call him an illegal immigrant? That makes no sense.

Just a few months ago, the AP was in the opposite camp. When activists pressured it to dump what they call the <WC>"<WC1>I-word,<WC>"<WC1> the news agency showed some spine and refused.

That's what journalists are supposed to do. It's not our job to play the role of defense attorneys who want to lessen the offenses their clients are charged with. That's what this campaign is really about — slowly convincing Americans that the estimated 11 million people who are in the United States without proper documents did nothing wrong, have nothing for which to apologize or make amends and should just be left alone.

Of course, the activists don't want Congress to leave the undocumented alone. They want lawmakers to grant them legal status, on the condition that illegal immigrants will do whatever is necessary to right the wrong that, the activists insist, they never committed.

Welcome to Wonderland. I'll be your guide. Not a week goes by that I don't get an email from someone urging me to stop using the <WC>"<WC1>I-word.<WC>"<WC1> Yeah, that's not going to happen.

For one thing, I'm not a latecomer to the larger cause. As a Latino columnist who has defended illegal immigrants against scapegoating by Republicans and Democrats alike for more than 20 years, I don't feel the need to prove anything to anyone.

Besides, this whole debate over the <WC>"<WC1>I-word<WC>"<WC1> is a distraction from issues that really matter. It puts a bright light on the hypocrisy of liberals who are tough on words but soft on an administration that has been like a plague set loose on Latino immigrants in the United States.

Here's some recent news that immigrant advocates might have missed while crusading against the <WC>"<WC1>I-word<WC>"<WC1>:<WC>

; Citing budget constraints, Immigration and Customs Enforcement released 2,228 incarcerated individuals that White House press secretary Jay Carney characterized as <WC>"<WC1>low-risk, non-criminal detainees.<WC>"<WC1> These are precisely the kind of people that President <WC>Barack <WC1>Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have repeatedly said would not be detained, but there they are.

; U.S. Border Patrol agents in the Buffalo, N.Y., office have, in recent years, been rewarded with cash bonuses and gift cards as part of a quota system.

According to a report by the New York University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, the program — whose annual budget had been ramped up to nearly $200,000 as of 2011 — is part of an agency culture that <WC>"<WC1>maximizes arrest rates.<WC>"<WC1> The result: ethnic profiling of <WC>Latino<WC1>s.

California temporary cultivation licenses issued as of March 15:

(Multiple licenses may be held by a single entity)

532 Santa Barbara County

491 Humboldt County

349 Mendocino County

263 Monterey County

158 Calaveras County

116 Los Angeles County

105 Trinity County

105 Riverside County

59 Sacramento County

58 Sonoma County

51 Yolo County

51 Alameda County

34 San Bernardino County

27 Santa Cruz County

25 Santa Clara County

20 Stanislaus County

11 San Francisco County

5 Shasta County

4 San Diego County

4 Lake County

5 San Luis Obispo

3 San Benito County

3 Contra Costa County

3 Kern County

2 Colusa County

1 Madera County

1 Solano County

1 El Dorado County

1 Fresno County

1 Siskiyou County

1 Tulare County

; The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina obtained emails showing that ICE officials have developed strategies — i.e., staking out traffic safety checkpoints by local police departments — in order to boost deportation figures. During each year of the Obama administration, about 400,000 illegal immigrants have been deported. Despite administration claims that only serious criminals are being removed, the emails show that immigrants convicted of minor crimes or no crimes at all are also targeted. The result: more profiling.

<CS8.6>By the end of 2013, a staggering 2 million illegal immigrants will have been rounded up and deported by immigration officials. This includes many people the administration said would not be deported. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of broken homes, divided families<WC> <WC1>and children raised without parents.

</CS>About this, many of the activists battling the <WC>"<WC1>I-word<WC>"<WC1> have said, well, nothing or next to nothing. Yet, if all this damage had been done by a Republican administration, you can bet they would have said a lot.

How about we make a deal? The Obama administration brings back everyone it deported by hook or by crook. And, when these people get here, you can call them whatever you want.

<i>Ruben Navarrette<WC> is a columnist for the <WC1>Washington Post Writers Group</i>.

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