On Thursday, new acts were added to New York City’s list of what constitutes “hate.”
The NYC Commission on Human Rights announced “new legal enforcement guidance and actions against discrimination based on immigration status and national origin.”
The new crimes include, according to a press release from the commission, “Threatening to call [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] 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 also said it was “currently investigating 4 cases involving discrimination based on threats to call ICE in order to harass, threaten, or intimidate a victim.”
It is unclear exactly how an alleged instance of discrimination could be investigated, considering the “he said/she said” nature of the allegations. Either a lot of cases will result in no findings or New York City residents will lose some due process rights in order to determine their guilt. And this says nothing of the First Amendment rights for speech — even objectionable speech.
“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,” Human Rights Commission Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis said in a statement published by Patch. “Today’s guidance makes abundantly clear that there is no room for discrimination in NYC.”
The commission told the outlet that it was actually investigating seven cases where landlords threatened to call immigration services on tenants for not paying their rent.
The new guidance “defines discrimination on the basis of perceived or actual immigration status and national origin under the New York City Human Rights Law in public accommodations, employment, and housing.”
“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 commission said in its press release. “Further, the guidance stipulates that harassing or discriminating against someone for their use of another language or their limited English proficiency, and threatening to call ICE on a person based on a discriminatory motive, are considered to be in violation of the law.”
Those found in violation face fines of up to $250,000, which “can be assessed for each act of willful discrimination, and damages are available to complainants.”
That last part — about providing damages to accusers — could set up the new policy for abuse. Need money? Accuse your employer of discrimination.
Patch provided some examples of how New York City residents could be in violation of the new guidance:
A store owner would violate the law if he tells two shoppers speaking Thai to “speak English” and “go back to your country,” the guidance says. Forcings [sic] prospective tenants who appear not to be U.S. citizens to put down six months of rent as a security deposit while only requiring one month’s rent from those thought to be citizens would also be illegal, according to the commission.