Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation protecting undocumented immigrants from blackmail. The new law makes it illegal to threaten to report someone’s immigration status to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“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,” Gov. Hochul said in a statement. “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 new law allows people to be prosecuted for blackmailing undocumented immigrants by threatening to incite deportation proceedings. Before Gov. Hochul signed this legislation, it was only illegal to threaten reporting someone’s immigration status in cases related to labor or sex trafficking. 

Similar measures have already been enacted elsewhere throughout the United States, including in California, Colorado, Maryland and Virginia. 

“For an undocumented immigrant who fled danger in their home country, being reported to ICE can be a death sentence, yet sadly, far too many people are willing to take advantage of our more vulnerable neighbors by threatening to reveal their immigration status in order to exploit them in some way,” said Sen. Anna M. Kaplan, the state senator who sponsored the bill. “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.”

Bushwick’s own state senator, Sen. Julia Salazar, is pushing for more. 

“This is good,” Sen. Salazar said in a recent tweet. “However, we can and should take the next step to protect immigrant New Yorkers from ICE: Let’s pass the New York for All Act.”

The New York for All Act, endorsed by Sen. Salazar, “prohibits state and local officers from enforcing federal immigration laws, funneling people into ICE custody, and sharing sensitive information with ICE. It prohibits ICE from entering non-public areas of state and local property without a judicial warrant. It also ensures that people in custody are given notice of their rights before being interviewed by ICE, and starts the process of limiting ICE access to state information databases.”


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