Bosses at media giant The Associated Press have banned the use of the term ‘illegal immigrant’.

The news gathering association is an information provider to the biggest media outlets in the world.

Editors and staff made the decision to ban the term after discussions on the subject.

A statement from AP said: “The Associated Press has decided to bar the use of the term illegal immigrant.

“A number of people felt that ‘illegal immigrant’ was the best choice at the time. They also believed the always-evolving English language might soon yield a different choice and we should stay in the conversation.

“Also, we had in other areas been ridding the Stylebook of labels. The new section on mental health issues argues for using credibly sourced diagnoses instead of labels.

“Saying someone was ‘diagnosed with schizophrenia’ instead of schizophrenic, for example.

“And that discussion about labelling people, instead of behavior, led us back to ‘illegal immigrant’ again.

“We concluded that to be consistent, we needed to change our guidance. So we have.

“Illegal should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.”

The AP statement added: “Is this the best way to describe someone in a country without permission? We believe that it is for now. We also believe more evolution is likely down the road.”

The decision will be welcomed by campaigners acting on behalf of the undocumented in America.