|Photo by Meg. Licensed via Creative Commons.|
But when it's a story about immigration law, people from outside the U.S. are almost never called "expatriates." Trust me, I've been paying attention to this one. And if you want to see for yourself, your search in Google News for the words "expatriates" and "immigration" in the same story will come up with fewer than 100 hits.
Journalists: if you use two different sets of vocabulary for the same group of people - immigrants - depending on whether the issue is about something we're all somewhat familiar with (sports/soccer) or something we're not all familiar with (immigration), that differentiation forces readers into a familiar frame of mind for the former and an unfamiliar frame of mind for the latter.
Here's a remedy: use familiar words more frequently. There's no journalistic reason not to, and it will build a more familiar frame around immigrants when we talk about immigration law. Here's how you can do it - find a place for "expatriate" in a story about immigration law - and use that word. Let me know in the comments if you don't think you can or should.
Having said that, I have to return to a point I've made before, which is that immigration-centric labels themselves should be discarded if unnecessary, no matter how "good" or familiar they are. Case in point: in the soccer story linked above, the immigrants are also described as "Maury County resident," "soccer backers," or "Nashville's [first and last name]."
That's even better. So here's a revised suggestion for the journalists: after "expatriate," say "Nashville's Juana Villegas," or whatever name it is of the person you're writing about.