‘Speak Spanish, This is America!’ Forum Oct. 12 in Brooklyn

Since Donald Trump was elected president, the Big Apple has seen an increase in cases of discrimination against Hispanics, as was exemplified last May when an angry lawyer yelled “Speak English, this is America!” to customers and employees at a Hell’s Kitchen restaurant who were talking in Spanish, and threatened to call ICE.

As a reminder that the Spanish language is welcome in New York and, by law, nobody can be discriminated against for speaking it, the city’s Commission on Human Rights, in partnership with El Diario and Univision 41 are promoting a community forum to let immigrants know their rights. It will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 at Brooklyn’s P.S. 24.

Under the slogan “¡Habla Español, esta es América!” (Speak Spanish, this is America!) local authorities and leaders of several community organizations will meet on Friday at P.S. 24 in Brooklyn. (…)

In the past two years the NYC Commission on Human Rights has seen a more than 20 percent increase in reports of discrimination over national origin and migratory status. (…)

“In this climate of hatred and xenophobia, it is more important than ever that all New Yorkers and their families understand their rights against discrimination and harassment, as well as what services and resources are available to help them,” said Carmelyn P. MalalisNYC commissioner on Human Rights. “Nobody should be afraid of walking down the street or taking their children to school or going shopping because of where they were born or the language they prefer to use.”


The initiative is also supported by the Mexican Consulate, the Mixteca organization, the New York Immigration Coalition, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Department of Consumer Affairs, Univision and Radio WADO.

María G., a Guatemalan mother who has lived in New York for 18 years, said she has experienced mistreatment firsthand because of speaking in Spanish and never denounced it, but after learning that perpetrators could be punished, she said she will not tolerate another affront.

“One day I was on the train and a white woman started giving me the evil eye because I sat down and didn’t give her the seat. She wasn’t old, we were the same age, around 45, and when I started talking to my friend, she yelled at me and told me to speak in English, that this is not Mexico. And I’ve never even set foot there!” said the cleaning worker.

(…) There are cases of victim compensation, as well as fines for the offenders.

This happened to a Mexican householder who, after working for 15 years in a supermarket and having health problems, was discriminated against and threatened. After filing a report, he received $5,000 in compensation (…)

“People are afraid to denounce discrimination, especially us immigrants. I worked in this supermarket for 15 years and this is how they treated me. My talks with my employer about my medical problem quickly became violent, and I got threatened because of being an immigrant and having a physical disability,” said the plaintiff, who preferred to withhold his name. (…)

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