New York City declared on Thursday that using the term “illegal alien” in a derogatory way is illegal in certain contexts and punishable by a fine of up to $250,000.
The city’s Commission on Human Rights issued new legal enforcement guidance stating that “the use of the term ‘illegal alien,’ among others, when used with the intent to demean, humiliate, or harass a person, is illegal under the law.” The guidelines apply to public accommodations, employment, and housing, according to a statement by the commission.
Also outlawed are “harassing and 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.”
New York City tweeted the commission’s statement, adding that it is illegal to tell someone to “go back to your country.”
“Hate has no place here,” the city said.
New York City has made it illegal to threaten to call ICE based on a discriminatory motive or to tell someone "go back to your country." Hate has no place here. pic.twitter.com/8PaIozjQty
— City of New York (@nycgov) September 26, 2019
Mayor Bill De Blasio, who earlier this month aborted his 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, retweeted the city’s post.
He added: “If you want to come into the ultimate city of immigrants and try to spread hate, you WILL face the consequences.”
If you want to come into the ultimate city of immigrants and try to spread hate, you WILL face the consequences. https://t.co/QWy54wADZ1
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) September 27, 2019
NYC stands up for illegal immigrants
Conservative commentators slammed the guidelines as an absurd infringement on free speech. The Daily Wire’s Jeremy Frankel tweeted that the policy was clearly unconstitutional.
How is this even remotely constitutional https://t.co/xLS9xpazOB
— Jeremy Frankel (@FrankelJeremy) September 29, 2019
Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, called it simply “Communism.”
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) September 28, 2019
Even immigration lawyer Matthew Kolken disapproved, saying: “The unconstitutional criminalization and restriction of unpopular speech is something that should scare us all.”
I've dedicated my career fighting to prevent the deportation of immigrants, and this scares me. The unconstitutional criminalization and restriction of unpopular speech is something that should scare us all. https://t.co/wrff3VZIoB
— Matthew Kolken (@mkolken) September 29, 2019
New York has challenged a number of the Trump administration’s attempts to restrict immigration. Last week, state and local officials sued to prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from arresting undocumented immigrants at courthouses.
“This lawsuit challenges the federal government’s recent unlawful and unconstitutional policy authorizing civil immigration arrests in and around New York State courthouses — a policy that disrupts the effective functioning of our courts, deters victims and witnesses from assisting law enforcement and vindicating their rights, hinders criminal prosecution, and undermines public safety,” the complaint reads.
ICE spokeswoman Rachel Yong Yow told the New York Post in a statement that the agency’s activities at and around courthouses “are consistent with longstanding law enforcement practices nationwide.”