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NY governor signs law protecting undocumented from threats to report immigration status

Published:Monday | October 11, 2021 | 9:54 AM
New York governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a ceremony to sign a package of bills to combat the opioid crisis, Thursday, October 7, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK, CMC – New York Governor Kathy Hochul has signed legislation protecting undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants from threats to report their immigration status. 

The legislation, known as S.343-A/A.3412-A, classifies certain threats to report a person's immigration status as extortion or coercion under New York law. 

“Threats to report a person's immigration status can currently be treated as a crime in cases of labour trafficking and sex trafficking, but were not previously treated as potential extortion or coercion offences,” the governor said after she signed the legislation on Saturday.

“New York is built on the hard work and determination of generations of immigrants, and we need to support people who are trying to build better lives for themselves and their families,” she added

“This legislation will protect New Yorkers from bad actors who use extortion or coercion due to their immigration status and make our state safer against vile threats and intimidation.” 

The measure allows prosecutors to prosecute efforts to blackmail an individual by threatening to cause deportation proceedings even when unrelated to labour or sex trafficking. 

Similar measures have been enacted in California, Colorado, Maryland and Virginia.

Hochul said the new legislation is based on model legislation recommended by The Public Leadership Institute, titled “Prevent Extortion of Immigrants Act.”

Haitian American New York State Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages, who tabled the bill in the State Assembly, said: “For an undocumented immigrant who fled danger in their home country, being reported to ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency) can be a death sentence. 

“Yet, sadly, far too many people are willing to take advantage of our more vulnerable neighbours by threatening to reveal their immigration status in order to exploit them in some way,” said Solages

“By enacting this long-overdue measure, we're updating the laws on extortion and coercion to ensure that immigrant New Yorkers aren't left vulnerable to such vile threats,” continued Solages, the first person of Haitian descent to be elected to the New York State Legislature.

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