Xenophobic fearmongers are really out here using Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to intimidate and manipulate people. The latest reported case involves 44-year-old Dianna Lysius and her tenant, 48-year-old Holly Ondaan. Originally from Guyana, Ondaan has a green card, but she wasn’t authorized to be in the states when her landlord decided to threaten her via text messages.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Lysius threatened Ondaan in January 2018, saying she would call ICE on her tenant if she didn’t pay overdue rent. Ondaan had, admittedly, not paid rent since October 2017.
This is, officially, a human rights issue under the law. And, according to New York’s Commission on Human Rights, who got the complaint to the judge, it’s straight-up discrimination. Thus, it led to real consequences. Lysius now has to pay a total of $17,000, which is the summation of a $5,000 fine from the city and $12,000 owed to the tenant in damages. On the other hand, a housing court decided Ondaan must pay $6,895 of the $14,400 owed in back rent.
This is far from the first case of housing discrimination based on immigration status. But, this is reportedly the first case in which a person faces serious consequences for trying to get immigration authorities involved. Unsurprisingly, the decision came about in the progressive city of Nueva York.
Unsurprisingly, a spike in housing discrimination cases of this nature followed Trump’s election. In 2017, when a similar case arose involving an unidentified immigrant tenant, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “Our message is loud and clear: We will hold landlords accountable for discrimination in our city. We stand with tenants, regardless of their origin, in Queens and across the five boroughs.”