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New York City

New York City’s “Illegal Alien” Law and What’s It All About

On September 25, 2019 New York City announced its new law concerning the New York City Human Rights Law. The law was created for the protection of immigrants located in New York. The law bans the use of certain words as well as certain scenarios that much of the immigrant population faces on a daily basis.


The specific terms banned are “illegal alien” and “illegals.” Although, that is not all that comes with the law. The harassment of any immigrant is now banned and can be called into the police as a crime. The fine for committing the crime can reach $250,000. It was stated in the 29-page directive that “‘Alien"— used in many laws to refer to a "noncitizen" person — is a term that may carry negative connotations and dehumanize immigrants, marking them as ‘other,'” according to the NYC Commission on Human Rights Legal Enforcement Guidance on Discrimination on the Basis of Immigration Status and National Origin.


With the ban against certain terminology used hateful essence, they have also created a list of certain scenarios in which someone could go to court or face the fine. The main cases listed are: someone prohibiting a native speaker from speaking their language, the heckling of someone who has an accent, and situations in which someone would receive less than an American would due to their immigration status. 


The law was created with the intention of lowering the percentage of immigrants who are discriminated against. In actuality the cases are difficult to confirm, deny, or investigate. This is mainly due to the fact that a countless number of these situations will be words against words without a proper sense of evidence.


In general, this law was created to focus more on protection than the removal of rights, but there’s been concern over whether it’s a violation of the first amendment. Due to the fact that it limits people’s speech and freedom to express themselves, more so for those who oppose immigration and aren’t as keen to have foreigners in their country. That particular group of people have deemed it a silencing of opinions, hence the reason that the controversy has been created.


There hasn’t been much talk about petitioning to get rid of the law as of the moment even with the controversy, in the mainstream media. The law doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere for awhile, likely due to the fact that about 60% of New York residents have an immigrant in their household, as stated in the NYC Commission on Human Rights Legal Enforcement Guidance on Discrimination on the Basis of Immigration Status and National Origin. 


Only time will tell whether the law will be able to withstand the controversy or go through changes but until then those are the main ideas and central points.


To read the complete list of guidelines, please visit by clicking here.