Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration kicked off a citywide “day of action” on Wednesday to promote tenant and immigrant rights following a recent incident during which a Corona landlord threatened eviction if tenants did not provide their immigration status.
Last week, a notice was sent to residents in an apartment building at 42nd Avenue and Junction Boulevard that demanded each resident show up at the site’s management office with a photo ID, Social Security card, proof of employment and a piece of identification that provided proof of status in the United States—such as a passport or green card.
On Wednesday, members of de Blasio’s administration, local elected officials, immigrant-rights activists and Queens residents turned out in Jackson Heights to denounce the incident and kick off a day during which they promoted tenant rights for immigrants across the borough.
We applaud the City Commission on Human Rights, which sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Corona landlord last week to demand that he stop engaging in discriminatory practices. And the mayor’s office should be commended for using the incident to spark a day during which tenants and immigrants could obtain valuable information on their rights.
Pressuring tenants to provide information about their immigration status is not only wrong, but illegal—according to the New York City Human Rights Law—and violators can rightfully face fines of up to $250,000.
The city Commission on Human Rights reported a disturbing overall increase (60 percent) in incidents involving discrimination in 2016. And of the 291 cases of discrimination based on immigration status that the commission is now investigating, a total of 89 cases related to housing.
This is all the more reason why the city continue to step up its efforts to punish landlords who attempt to take advantage of vulnerable people. But it’s also important that the city continue to ensure that immigrants and tenants know that they are safe to report abusive behavior by landlords without fear of retaliation.