Things That Matter

NYC Is Getting Ready To Fine People $250K For Using Anti-Immigrant Language

For the past 250 years, the United States has used an offensive term to describe foreigners as aliens. It’s a term that dates back to 1765 and was first documented to be used by an English jurist and politician named William Blackstone. According to Foreign Policy, Blackstone wrote in “Commentaries on the Laws of England” that “aliens” — “derived from the Latin term alienus, meaning ‘foreigner’ or ‘outsider’ — as people born outside the king’s ‘dominions,’ or territory over which the monarch rules (including the land that later became the United States).” However, in our modern language, the term “alien” has always been used typically to describe an extraterrestrial, a creature from outer space. So, it makes sense that a word to describe creatures from outer space and foreigners is seen as substantially different and also offensively wrong.

The City of New York has had enough with people using the term “illegal aliens” when describing undocumented immigrants so now they will fine people $250,000 if they use it.

Credit: @nypost / Twitter

On Sept. 26, the NYC Commission on Human Rights announced they are going to great lengths to stop people from spreading hate in the city, and if people violate the city’s mandates they will pay a hefty fee. One of the new rules includes the use of the words “illegal aliens.” 

“The guidance states that the use of the term ‘illegal alien, among others, when used with intent to demean, humiliate, or harass a person, is illegal under the law,” the NYC Commission on Human Rights said in a press release

While the government continues to use the term “illegal alien,” especially the Trump Administration, it’s been widely known that using that term to describe undocumented immigrants is offensive. Some have also connected it to hate speech. Several news organizations have said they would stop using that term and instead use the correct wording, “undocumented immigrants,” especially because immigration advocates, say “no human is illegal.”

There’s more! The city of New York is also making it illegal to threaten to call ICE on anyone.

Credit: @nycgov / Twitter

We’ve seen time and time again, people threatening others that they would call ICE on them as a way to intimidate, harass, and exude power over someone. New York City is saying that no longer will be allowed. 

“The New York City Human Rights Law is one of the most protective in the nation,” Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, said in a press release. “It protects everyone, regardless of their immigration status. 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. Today’s guidance makes abundantly clear that there is no room for discrimination in NYC.”

Last but not least, the City of New York is also banning people from telling others they can’t speak Spanish. If anyone harasses someone and tells them to stop speaking Spanish, they will have to pay $250,000.

While New York City is perhaps one of the most diverse and liberal cities in the world, there have been several examples of racist people living in NYC. We’ve seen several viral moments on social media that shows racist people telling Spanish-speaking people to speak English instead. That all ends with the city’s new mandates. 

“We are proud to have worked with the NYC Commission on Human Rights to produce and release this important guidance as we combat the federal government’s rhetoric of fear and xenophobic policies that have threatened the health and well-being of immigrant communities,” Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs said. “Harassment and discrimination based on one’s actual or perceived immigration status, national origin, limited English proficiency, or accent will never be tolerated in our City of 3.2 million immigrants.”

So, one more time for the people in the back. If you are caught or reported to have done any of these things in New York City, you could be charged hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Credit: @Katrina_HRM / Twitter

Specific violations of immigration status and national origin protections include: 

  • Harassing a restaurant patron because of their accent.
  • Refusing repairs on a unit occupied by an immigrant family and threatening to call ICE if they complain.  
  • Paying a lower wage or withholding wages to workers because of their immigration status 
  • Harassing a store customer by telling them to stop speaking their language and demanding they speak English.

For more information on the new NYC Human Rights Law, click here.

READ: The New York Attorney Who Went On Rant Against Spanish-Speakers Cowers From Media

She’s An Undocumented Migrant Herself But Is Fighting For People Like Her In The Court System

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She’s An Undocumented Migrant Herself But Is Fighting For People Like Her In The Court System

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Lizbeth Mateo always had a strong sense of justice since she was a small child. It was this determination that would lead her to become an immigration lawyer and a controversial appointment to a post on a state advisory committee, despite being undocumented. 

The Los Angeles lawyer is a DREAMER. She came to the U.S. from Oaxaca with her parents at 14 years old. Now, 20 years later, Mateo protects immigrants in court every day and each time she does she faces possible arrest and deportation. The Los Angeles Times profiled Mateo as she fights for herself by fighting for others. 

“I’m a walking contradiction,” Mateo told the newspaper.

Officials received death threats when Mateo was appointed to a state advisory board.

When the Senate Rules Committee appointed Mateo to the California Student Opportunity and Access Program Project Grant Advisory Committee, her legal status made headlines. 

“While Donald Trump fixates on walls, California will continue to concentrate on opportunities,” Kevin de León, state Senate president pro tem, said in 2018. “Ms. Mateo is a courageous, determined and intelligent young woman who at great personal risk has dedicated herself to fight for those seeking their rightful place in this country.”

De Leon took a lot of flack, including death threats, for appointing an undocumented immigrant. But who better to help underserved students than one herself. 

“There were some really angry people who said really nasty things,” said Mateo. “They said ICE is coming, they’re going to report me and they hope Trump sends the Army.”

Mateo is a local hero to immigrants who credit her courage for making real change. 

“Any of us with DACA owe Lizbeth and the movement,” said Mateo’s attorney Luis Angel Reyes Savalza who is also undocumented.

Mateo is still on her journey to citizenship. She believes that for people like her, people who have come here without papers but contribute so deeply to society will have a chance at naturalization — at least someday. 

“I wouldn’t say I worry about her. I’d say I’m very much inspired by her, and she’s inspired many others in her outspokenness and her activism,” Reyes Savalza said. “I do think she’s taking a very calculated risk, and I think it speaks to the kind of person she is that she puts community first.”

Even if Mateo is unsurprised by the Trump’s administration anti-immigration policies and disappointed in Democrats who have done little to stop him, she still believes her chances in the United States were better than in Oaxaca. 

“It provides opportunities. So much so that someone like me, who came from a tiny town in Oaxaca — with parents who only finished sixth grade, nothing more — could make it and become an attorney,” she said. 

Mateo’s journey from a struggling ESL student to a revered lawyer was not easy. 

Mateo attended Venice High but it was no walk in the park, the once superstar student wasn’t able to shine her brightest as she struggled to learn English.  

“I couldn’t stand being in school, didn’t understand things and felt isolated and very stupid. In Mexico, I was outgoing and always raising my hand and answering questions,” Mateo said. “I remember one day I came home crying and told my mom I wanted to go back to Oaxaca and live with my grandmother. She said OK, we’ll send you back if that’s what you want. But you have to wait because we don’t have any money.”

Mateo didn’t give up. She graduated from Venice High then attended Santa Monica College and Cal State Northridge. Although her options for grad school and job prospects would be limited due to her immigration status, she continued to fight for her place in the United States. 

In 2014, she and nine other DREAMERs were arrested after traveling south of the border then returning to protest deportations under the Obama administration and lobby for the DREAM act. The move, going back to Mexico, disqualified her from receiving DACA protections. Mateo was still able to attend Santa Clara University for law school soon after. 

“There was a level of determination that is very rare and inspirational and … what was amazing was that she led others,” said one of her professors, Michelle Oberman. “She’s a hero of mine and in this day of big egos she’s quite centered. … It’s all in the service of others and it’s not about her. That’s what’s most singularly impressive.”

Mateo received her law degree, passed the bar, and made defending immigrants her life’s mission. And the rest is history in the making. 

A White Woman Is Suing Two Black Teachers Claiming Reverse Racism After She Banned Black History Lessons

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A White Woman Is Suing Two Black Teachers Claiming Reverse Racism After She Banned Black History Lessons

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For the past several years, the country’s educational system has been challenged over what students should be learning in school and, for a good reason. The classes, in particular, history, are antiquated and, even more importantly, incorrect. As a society, we’ve been taught a white version of America’s history, and it’s only when we get to college or continue our studies elsewhere that we begin to discover the truth. But little by little, through education reform, teachers are attempting to change that in order to teach students about the real America and how their ancestors make up the fabric of this country. Some, however, in power positions don’t want that. 

A legal battle has ensued between a Bronx principal and teachers in which both parties are calling each other racist.

Credit: @TravelsWithTony / Twitter

The issue between these two parties began in 2018 when Mercedes Liriano, a teacher at Bronx Intermediate School 224, began teaching her sixth graders about the Harlem Renaissance in her art class during Black History Month. 

Patricia Catania, a white principal of that school at the time, told her to stop the lesson immediately. She took away posters that students were carrying that depicted the image of singer Lena Horne. Catania said that Liriano didn’t approve her lesson plan for Black History Month, but Liriano, a black teacher, said she submitted her entire lesson plan for the year. Furthermore, in an interview with the Washington Post, Liriano said that she has been teaching those lessons during Black History Month for the past 14 years. 

Teachers and parents were so appalled that the principal would prevent the teacher from teaching the Harlem Renaissance during Black History Month that they protested the matter.

Credit: YouTube

The matter last year garnered national attention, and many high-profile black activists got involved. 

“We’re learning about slavery and Harriet Tubman, but she says that I’m an ELA teacher and therefore should not be teaching that,” Liriano said last year to a local news station. “But it’s part of the New York state curriculum.”

While the school board investigated the matter, Catania continued to work at the school. This June, however, Catania got a demotion and was moved to another school just a mile away. She became the assistant principal at a different school. 

Now, months after her demotion, the former principal has filed a lawsuit against three black teachers and the union because she says they falsely accused her of being racist and claims they discriminated against her.

Credit: National Black United Front / Facebook

“There is literally not a racist thought in my head, nor a racist molecule in my body, nor have I ever made a racist comment, or acted in a racist manner in my life,” Catania said in a sworn deposition.

Her lawyer adds, “She’s been portrayed as the villain, but she’s really the victim here,” Anthony Gentile, Catania’s lawyer, said in an interview with the Post. “It was racism, pure and simple, [even though] some people may not see her as sympathetic as when this happens to a brown-skinned person.”

Liriano wrote on Twitter, “Reverse racism does not exist when we were not or have ever been the oppressors! All I have ever done was instill PRIDE! in my students! My children! By teaching them about their rich culture and true stories!!”

We shall see how this matter plays out in court. 

Last year, another Bronx school official was also investigated after she made some of her black students act as slaves so they could endure what they did.

Credit: YouTube

Teacher Patricia Cummings at another Bronx school had some of her black students lay on the floor to reenact a “slave trade — and then stepped on their backs to show them what slavery felt like,” The New York Daily News reports.An investigation found that she didn’t do everything she was accused of. She was still fired, and she is also suing the school board for a billion dollars. Yes, you read that right. 

“They’re on the record for saying the reason I’m being terminated is because of my performance as an educator and the report,” Cummings said according to ABC News. “My performance as an educator, I’ve been rated effective by the Department of Education. I’m an effective teacher.”

READ: Students At This High School Apparently Thought It Was OK To Drag A Black Mannequin By A Rope At Their Homecoming Game