New York City Bans Wrongthink

New York City is trying to ban the phrase “illegal alien” in various contexts, including employment and housing. It has issued a guidance to that effect under the New York City Human Rights Law. Under the City’s interpretation, calling an illegal alien an “illegal alien” could cost you $250,000. At Liberty Unyielding, Hans Bader points out that the guidance is obviously unconstitutional:

New York City is seeking to use an overly broad ordinance against discriminatory harassment to restrict speech about illegal aliens, such as use of the word “illegal alien” to describe workers or tenants. That violates the First Amendment. … The Commission states, “Even an employer’s single comment made in circumstances where that comment would signal discriminatory views about one’s immigration status or national origin may be enough to constitute harassment. The use of the terms “illegal alien” and “illegals,” with the intent to demean, humiliate, or offend a person or persons in the workplace, amounts to unlawful discrimination under the NYCHRL.”

The City of New York wants to frustrate the enforcement of immigration laws:

The city also is trying to forbid most if not all reporting of illegal aliens to the federal government. The Commission forbids such reports if the person making the report is “motivated” by the illegal alien’s “immigration status.” But what other motive could a reporting party legitimately have? The whole reason to report an illegal alien to the federal government is precisely because of their immigration status.

New York wants to ban the phrase “illegal alien,” but that is how illegal aliens are described throughout Title 8 of the U.S. Code. And employers are not just permitted but required to have a “discriminatory view” of illegal aliens, since, under federal law, it is illegal to hire them.

Further, as Hans points out, constitutionally protected speech does not lose that status on account of any allegedly impure motive on the part of the speaker. It is hard to imagine a more obviously unconstitutional restriction than New York’s “human rights guidance.” But I don’t suppose that bothers the leftists who issued it.

For some time now, the left has been trying to normalize extremism. But this New York City rule exemplifies the left’s current effort to go further by actually requiring extremism, or at least obeisance to extremism. You must agree with the left that the phrase “illegal alien” is verboten, a view that only a small minority holds and is legally untenable, or risk a $250,000 fine. This is the brave new world in which those who live in urban areas controlled by liberals are forced to live.

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