Finally, xenophobic discrimination based on immigration status or national origin is punishable under the law in New York. In other words, calling someone an “illegal alien” or treating an individual differently due to their accent or spoken language of choice may lead you to be fined a very pretty penny. A quarter of a million dollars, to be specific!
Just a couple of weeks ago, a landlord in NYC was fined $17,000 for threatening to call ICE on a tenant who had overdue rent. At the time, the decision was one of the firsts of its kind and laid the groundwork for the newly rolled out set of guidelines. That is just one of four cases being investigated at the moment.
Now, the stakes have been raised. The decision to further enforcement actions comes from both Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office and that of NYC Commission on Human Rights. “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 in a press release.
A list of things that are no longer tolerable under the law include refusing housing or repairs to immigrant families, paying a lower wage or withholding wages to workers based on their status, and harassing a worker or customer based on their accent. In addition, telling someone to “speak English” is now both ethically and legally unacceptable.
These regulations (which extend to 26 protected categories) apply in all public spaces.
“All New Yorkers deserve to feel safe and secure in their workplace, their homes, and their neighborhoods,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Commissioner for the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
I’ll take it a step further and say every single soul in this nation and beyond deserve the same. Although making something illegal doesn’t impede it from happening, it does protect potential victims and make people hesitate before doing so. This is a great step forward, but is only applicable in NYC. Here’s to hoping other, or rather all, cities take note.