By Bill Parry
A New York state court blocked the city from destroying personal records of 900,000 IDNYC cardholders after two Republican lawmakers from Staten Island filed a lawsuit Monday. City officials had been considering destroying copies of passports, birth certificates, educational records and other documents submitted by applicants for the municipal identification cards if President-elect Donald Trump moves forward with plans to deport illegal immigrants.
“The court has temporarily barred the city from doing away with records associated with the IDNYC program,” City Hall spokeswoman Rosemary Boeglin said. “The mayor is absolutely committed to protecting the security of our data. As we continue to review all of our options, we are confident that we can keep the IDNYC data private.”
The city will no longer require such personal information from those who apply for IDNYC. A state judge will decide whether to extend the stay after both sides file additional court papers by Dec. 21.
The intrigue began Monday when Republican Assembly members Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina filed the lawsuit in Staten Island Supreme Court citing state public-records laws.
When IDNYC was introduced in 2015, the New York Civil Liberties Union warned the city to retain as little information as possible. It is believed nearly half of the cardholders are undocumented immigrants.
“If you look at the original legislation, which is the law of this city, it was quite clear we were not going to be — we were not going to allow ourselves to be in a situation where those records would be turned over to the federal government,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. “The whole idea of IDNYC was to give people an opportunity in this city to live a better life for themselves and their families, to have a deeper connection with the city and city government. And it has been successful, but the reason people were willing to trust us is we made very clear that there would never be a situation where it would lead to their deportation, and we’re going to keep that pledge, and it’s part of our law.”
Castonia and Malliotakis, citing public-records law, said in their lawsuit that destroying government records “due to the results of a federal election is against the ideals of the United States and has no basis in law.”
One Queens lawmaker took umbrage with his fellow members of the Assembly.
“When we should be reinforcing the trust between our immigrant communities and the agencies that serve them, my colleagues have instead opted to further erode that trust,” Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst) said. “When IDNYC launched, we asked people to put their trust in this city, our city. This lawsuit only betrays them and scares them back into the shadows. The election has given undocumented immigrants in my district and throughout New York a lot to be concerned about, but getting an identification card should not be one of them. It hurts our ability to provide them services; it hurts families by making their lives more difficult.
By not standing by the thousands of families which also call New York home, Assembly members Malliotakis and Castorina share in the blame for creating a climate in which immigrants feel targeted and threatened.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr