Anti-extortion bill awaits signature 1

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky

An immigrant protection bill passed the Legislature on June 3 and awaits the signature of Gov. Cuomo to become law, according to the bill’s lead sponsor, Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont).

Queens Assemblymembers Vivian Cook (D-Jamaica), David Weprin (D-Richmond Hill), Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), Nily Rozic (D-Flushing), Alicia Hyndman (D-Springfield Gardens), Catalina Cruz (D-Corona), Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona) and Clyde Vanel (D-Queens Village) co-sponsored the bill.

On the state Senate side, the bill has received support from Sens. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing), Jessica Ramos (D-Jackson Heights), James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park), John Liu (D-Bayside), Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Joe Addabbo Jr.(D-Howard Beach).

The bill would protect immigrants from people who would threaten to reveal their status for the purpose of blackmail and amend laws on extortion and coercion, according to a press release from Solages’ office.

“The threat of deportation is very serious to undocumented immigrants, which makes them particularly vulnerable to extortion or coercion,” said 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.”

Stavisky agreed.

“Undocumented immigrants often come to the United States because they feared for their lives in their home country,” said Stavisky. “The threat of deportation is extremely serious and makes them susceptible to extortion and coercion. I support this bill because I believe we need to protect vulnerable people from those who seek to take advantage of their fear of ICE and deportation.”

Immigrants should be afforded fair and due process without being harassed or blackmailed over their status, according to Addabbo.

“Extortion and coercion of an individual due to their immigration status or suspected immigration status is just wrong,” said Addabbo in an emailed statement to Queens Chronicle.

“No person should be forced into doing anything or giving up their property because someone is blackmailing them or threatening to have them deported.”

If an extortionist interferes with proper procedures “they should face charges,” said Addabbo.

If signed into law, it will go into effect in 30 days.

Cuomo’s office could not be reached to say if he will sign the bill.

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