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It’s Now Illegal to Use the Term “Illegal Alien” in NYC

Immigrations Make America Great poster

Last year a New York City lawyer was caught on camera yelling at two women and threatening to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for speaking Spanish in a restaurant. The video went viral, even reaching the mayor’s office. The city’s top official, Bill de Blasio, responded to the disturbing incident on Twitter saying, “The city’s diversity is our strength and the people who call the city home speak more than 200 languages and they are all welcome here.”

One year later the city moved to reaffirm that message by banning the use of the terms “illegals” and “illegal aliens.” In addition, NYC’s Commission on Human Rights announced new laws specifically safeguarding against discrimination on the basis of immigration status and national origin in housing, public accommodations and employment.

Any resident who endured discrimination can file a complaint with the commission who will determine the eligibility of the case and proceed accordingly. The commission has already taken on four cases as a result of the new directives. The first ruling, issued last month by Judge John B. Spooner recommended a landlord pay $17,000 for threatening to call ICE on a tenant, set a promising precedent for the interpretation of the new laws and the protection of all citizens despite their known or perceived status.

Do you find the terms “illegal” and “illegal alien” offensive? Should using them be a crime? Sound off in the comments section.

Jessica Hoppe

Jessica Hoppe is a New York-based writer and social media strategist who founded her blog, Nueva Yorka, in 2015. She has been featured in Vogue, Yahoo, HuffPost, PopSugar, Who What Wear, Ravishly and worked as Lifestyle Editor for StyleCaster. Jessica has been passionate about writing, diversity and Latin American culture from an early age. Having grown up in a Spanish speaking home, her father is Ecuadorian and her mother is from Honduras.

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