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The Two Words Nancy Pelosi Won't Use to Describe Illegal Immigrants

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"Are you referring to undocumented people...?"

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. speaks at the Generation Progress's annual Make Progress National Summit in Washington, Wednesday,July 16, 2014. The summit brings together progressive leaders and young people. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) got into a verbal scuffle with a reporter Wednesday over whether it's okay to call certain immigrants "illegal aliens."

At a morning briefing, Pelosi took a question from a reporter who asked whether Iraqis who entered the country illegally should be allowed to stay in the country under President Barack Obama's planned immigration policy changes. But the reporter barely got the question out, as Pelosi interrupted her twice when she used the term "illegal alien."

"If President Obama does what he has promised to do and take executive action to legalize some illegal aliens in the United States…" she said before Pelosi cut her off.

"Are you referring to undocumented people who are in the United States?" Pelosi asked.

"Illegal aliens, yes ma'am," the reporter said.

"Undocumented people, OK," Pelosi shot back, getting in the last word on the matter.

Many Democrats who favor easing U.S. immigration rules have stopped using the term "illegal alien" in an apparent effort to make it easier to sympathize with those who cross the border without a visa or work permit. Democrats are hoping President Barack Obama will take executive action soon after the election to create some form of legal status for millions of illegal immigrants.

But while Democrats don't like the term "illegal alien," it's a term that's found in U.S. law, and a term that is used routinely by the federal government. Just last month, for example, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that five 7-Eleven franchise owners pleaded guilty to hiring "illegal aliens."

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