(1010 WINS) – Residents of New York City who use terms like “illegal alien” could face a quarter-million-dollar fine, officials say.
The city’s Commission on Human Rights announced late last week that people who use such terms “with intent to demean, humiliate or harass a person” or who harass someone with “limited English proficiency” may be fined up to $250,000.
"Threatening to call ICE 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 said.
Telling someone to "speak English" or "go back to your country" is also a violation, according to the new guidance.
"Fines of up to $250,000 can be assessed for each act of willful discrimination," the commission says.
People could also get fined if they threaten to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with a “discriminatory motive.” The violations would apply to people who target others perceived to be in the country illegally, regardless of their actual legal status.
"The NYC Commission on Human Rights ... defines discrimination on the basis of perceived or actual immigration status and national origin under the New York City Human Rights Law in public accommodation, employment, and housing," the commission said.
There has been a push in recent years to refer to immigrants as “undocumented” rather than “illegal,” with advocates arguing that the latter dehumanizes people. The term "illegal alien" is still used under federal law.
More on this legal guidance can be found here: Legal Enforcement Guidance on Discrimination on the Basis of Immigration Status and National Origin.