Our former colleague Jorge Rivas ran into an offensive glitch when using Google Translate this weekend. In eight out of ten tries, the Spanish language word “indocumentado,” which translates to “undocumented,” was mistranslated by Google Translate as “illegal” when it appeared in a headline. As Rivas writes in a letter published by ABC-Univision’s Fusion,
As a journalist, when I use the term undocumented immigrant instead of illegal immigrant I’m doing so in order to remain more neutral and not use language charged with anti-immigrant sentiment. When you use the term illegal immigrant, it affects attitudes towards immigrants and people of color.
Rivas is asking that Google Translate be “honest and accurate” in its translations. Read his entire letter, with numerous examples of Google Translate’s mistranslations on the Fusion site.