‘As a citizen of the country I must protect my country…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A New York City judge fined a landlord $17,000 for threatening to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement if an illegal tenant did not pay rent on time.
The landlord, Dianna Lysius, had been leasing an apartment to Holly Ondaan, an illegal immigrant fro Guyana, in Queens since 2011. Lysius filed eviction proceedings against her last year when she continued to bail on her rent payments.
That’s when Lysius texted Ondaan threatening to call ICE if she didn’t pay her rent or leave the apartment, according to the Wall Street Journal.
She then sent a link to an article about ICE officers raiding a nearby 7-Eleven. In one of the messages, Lysius reportedly told Ondaan, “As a citizen of the country I must protect my country.”
In another message, she allegedly said: “I REPORTED YOU TO IMMIGRATION BOO THEY KNOW IM THE LANDLORD TO PROVIDE THEM KEYS COME DIRECTLY TO YOU.”
Lysius denies ever sending threatening text messages. “Everything in that report is false,” she said.
Under a New York City human rights law, threatening to call immigration enforcement is discrimination.
Ondaan obtained a green card in July 2018, but said she was still in the country illegally at the time.
As a result of Ondaan’s failure to pay rent, Lysius fell behind in mortgage payments and was forced to sell the property in foreclosure. Lysius’s “dire financial circumstances likely played a significant part in motivating her hostile messages,” Judge John B. Spooner said.
When Ondaan finally moved out, she owed Lysius more than $14,400 in rent, according t the court’s ruling, but she only has to pay back $6,895.
Sapna Raj, a deputy with the New York Commission on Human Rights, told CNN that the city will continue to defend illegal aliens.
“We will not allow our city’s most vulnerable to be further marginalized out of fear for their safety in their own homes,” Raj said.
“Immigration status, citizenship, and national origin (perceived or actual) are protected categories under our law, and we will continue to fight to ensure those protections are enforced to the fullest extent.”