Bill Protecting Immigrants from Blackmail Becomes Law in NY

The new law will take effect in 30 days

OCTOBER 9, 2021 (Elmont, NY) – Today, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation aimed at protecting vulnerable immigrant New Yorkers from those who would threaten to reveal an individual’s immigration status for the purpose of blackmail. The legislation, S.343-A/A.3412-A, introduced and passed in the State Legislature by Assemblymember Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) and State Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills), amends the laws on extortion and coercion to also include making threats to report a person’s immigration status or otherwise cause deportation proceedings to be brought against an individual.

Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages, Chair of the NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, & Asian Legislative Caucus stated, “New York State will continue to remain a safe haven for new American communities as they seek employment and advancement opportunities for themselves and their families. This legislation will protect these individuals from having their immigration status used as leverage against them as they pursue their American Dream. I want to extend my gratitude to Senator Anna Kaplan for her partnership in passing this measure and to Governor Hochul for continuing to prioritize the needs of our new American communities.”

Senator Anna M. Kaplan said “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. 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. I'm extremely grateful for Assemblymember Solages and her partnership in addressing this issue, and for Governor Hochul for ensuring that our communities are safe and protected."

Extortion and coercion involve compelling a person to turn over property, or to engage, or refrain from engaging, in other conduct by intimidation, including threatening to cause criminal charges to be instituted against them. This legislation amends the Penal Law definitions of "extortion" and "coercion" to also include making threats for such purposes as to cause deportation proceedings to be brought against an individual, thereby making it a criminal offense to coerce or extort an individual through threats of deportation.  

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

The new law will take effect in 30 days.

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