Tenants of a Corona building in Queens, were victims of a threat of eviction if they didn’t show that they were living in the United States legally.
The building has recently been under new management, which sent a notice to all 23 apartments in the building on the corner of 42nd Ave. and Junction Blvd., demanding that each leaseholder appear at the building’s management office with a photo ID, a Social Security card, a “proof of your status in U.S. (Green card or Passport)” and a proof of employment.
“P.S If you fail to comply, your lease will not be renewed, we may have to terminate your lease and may have to evict you from the apartment,” the notice from “New Management” read, according to a New York Daily News report, which said landlord Jaideep Reddy, apologized for the letter saying that it was wrong and that he will retract it.
State Sen. Jose Peralta called it “very shocking and appalling” and said that someone had called him to complain and that he did plan to file a complaint with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office June 19, contending that the letter was a violation of the city’s Human Rights Law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of immigration status.
Reddy told the Daily News that the letter appeared to be the result of more than a year-long frustration from an electrician trying to gain access to apartments to make electrical repairs following a fire.
“Each apartment has 12 people in there! Is that safe? I don’t think it’s safe. Half the tenants won’t let the electrician into their apartment,” he said adding the fact that the electrician had drafted the letter and “that was stupid on his part.”
The electrician, Eddie Peralta, an immigrant from Colombia who came to the U.S. in 1983, said that his secretary wrote the letter before ranting about undocumented immigrants, the news report said.
Residents of the four-story building in the predominantly Latino neighborhood are unhappy with the situation, “people here don’t like it. This is completely illegal. People are feeling very sad. Some people are intimidated,” Kenya Messina told the NY Daily News.
Blanca Lima, a Guatemalan mother of two who has been living in the building for 26 years, said that she does not like the letter and that even though she has all of her papers to prove that she is in the U.S. legally, she will not share them with management in solidarity with her undocumented neighbors.
“Why are they asking for papers? For me it’s not good because a lot of neighbors don’t have anything. I’m with them. A lot of people don’t want to talk. I think they’re scared,” Lima is quoted saying.
Worried tenants told the NY Daily News that they heard the letter was Reddy’s way to “clean house” after he bought the building three years ago. And not everyone disagrees with the letter, like longtime resident like Miledys Fermin, who approved of it hoping that it would make the building safer.
She told the NY Daily News that she sees many people who are not residents, going in and out of the building as she expressed her concern that gang members were living in the building and she had already called the NYPD about her fears because she said she was worried “they’re inside drinking, doing drugs, marijuana.”
An NYPD spokesman did confirm five complaints about trespassing or marijuana-related offenses at the building, the news reports said.
The NY Daily News noted that last week, Thomas Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told a House subcommittee that undocumented immigrants “need to be worried.”
“If you’re in this country illegally and you committed a crime by entering this country, you should be uncomfortable,” Homan said.