New York, NY – Calling someone an “illegal alien” or threatening to report them to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) now comes with a fine of $250,000 in New York City.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights announced the move on Thursday in a press release that included guidance on what exactly would be considered derogatory use of certain terminology based on the user’s motivations, FOX News reported.
“Threatening to call ICE when motivated by discrimination, derogatory use of the term ‘illegal alien,’ and discrimination based on limited English proficiency are unlawful discriminatory treatment under the NYC Human Rights Law,” the commission wrote.
The press release also claimed that the commission was already investigating four cases where somebody threatened to call ICE “in order to harass, threaten, or intimidate a victim.”
“Fines of up to $250,000 can be assessed for each act of willful discrimination, and damages are available to complainants,” according to the release.
Critics quickly jumped on social media to declare the new law an attack on the First Amendment.
The city’s Commission on Human Rights has a track record of attacking free speech and has previously banned landlords and employers from using pronouns other than what their tenants and employees preferred, FOX News reported.
Violations of that guidance also cost the perpetrator as much as $250,000 in fines.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pointed out that the term “illegal alien” is actually the correct terminology under federal law to describe a person who is in the country illegally.
In fact, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered his staff to only use the term “illegal alien,” FOX News reported.
“The word ‘undocumented’ is not based in US code and should not be used to describe someone’s illegal presence in the country,” Sessions wrote in agency-wide email.
But New York City’s human rights commission sees things very differently and openly admitted the new guidance was a response to what they perceived as an attack on illegal immigrants by President Donald Trump’s administration, the New York Post reported.
“In the face of increasingly hostile national rhetoric, we will do everything in our power to make sure our treasured immigrant communities are able to live with dignity and respect, free of harassment and bias,” NYC Human Rights Commission Chair Carmelyn Malalis said.
The directive also listed a number of examples of acts or remarks that could get a person into trouble in the Big Apple, the New York Post reported.
“A hotel prohibits its housekeepers from speaking Spanish while cleaning because it would ‘offend’ hotel guests or make them uncomfortable,” was one example.
“An Indian immigrant family complains to their landlord about mold and cockroaches in their unit. The landlord tells them to ‘just deal with it’ and threatens to call ICE if they file a complaint in housing court,” was another example, according to the New York Post.
“A store owner tells two friends who are speaking Thai while shopping in his store to ‘speak English’ and ‘go back to your country,’ was yet one more hypothetical that could land the speaker in legal trouble under the new directive.
The same day the new guidance was issued by the human rights agency, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced a $1 million joint investment with the state to “guarantee” legal services to illegal immigrants who faced imminent deportation, the New York Post reported.