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Not fine: The city wants to punish people who use words it doesn’t like to characterize illegal immigrants


The city’s Commission on Human Rights Wednesday released guidelines making it illegal, with huge penalties for violators, for landlords or employers to tell someone to “go back to your country,” or even use the term “illegal” or “alien” “with the intent to demean, humiliate or offend.”

Chairwoman Carmelyn Malalis, this is crazy, and almost certainly unconstitutional.

It’s long been verboten in this city to discriminate against someone based on citizenship status in employment, housing or public accommodations. Okay; we certainly don’t want anyone to be ousted from a store or school, or evicted from their apartment, on the suspicion of being undocumented.

But employment is a special case — under federal law it is unlawful for a person or “to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien.”

More chillingly, the city now aims to turn the screw against the mere expression that someone may not be a citizen or legal resident.

What happens when the city’s Human Rights Commission runs up against the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?