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

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