Assembly Passes Legislation to Protect Immigrants from Coercion and Extortion

Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages today announced the Assembly has passed legislation that would include making threats to report a person’s immigration status or cause deportation/removal proceedings a form of extortion or coercion (A.3412-A, Solages).

“Our immigrant communities face significant challenges and the Assembly Majority has always been committed to protecting them,” said Speaker Heastie. “Deportation proceedings have very real and serious consequences, and that is why we must ensure that people are not able to exploit a person’s situation for personal gain.”

“The threat of deportation is very serious to undocumented immigrants, which makes them particularly vulnerable to extortion or coercion,” said Assemblymember Solages. “Too often, that vulnerability is exploited by unscrupulous actors. This legislation would protect these individuals and their families from having their immigration status used as leverage against them.”

Under current law, the threat to accuse someone of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against an individual in order to compel them to do something from which they have a legal right to abstain is considered coercion. This legislation would ensure that the coercive threat to report one’s suspected status or to cause deportation/removal proceedings would be treated the same way.

The threat to accuse someone of a crime or cause criminal charges to be brought against an individual as a means of obtaining property is considered larceny by extortion. This legislation would also protect immigrants from such extortion by ensuring that the threat to procure deportation/removal charges is treated the same way as a threat of criminal charges.

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