By Bill Parry
City officials and two GOP lawmakers squared off in a Staten Island courtroom where a judge will decide if the de Blasio administration can follow through on its vow to destroy the personal data of nearly one million IDNYC cardholders. After Donald Trump became president-elect, the mayor promised he would protect cardholders’ information from being used in the deportations of illegal immigrants.
State Assembly members Ron Castorina and Nicole Malliotakis filed the suit Dec. 31 to stop the city from destroying the data, arguing the policy violates the state’s Freedom of Information Act. They contended the computer scannings of passports, leases, bank statements and other documents should be retained by law enforcement while city officials testified that applications for the municipal identification card including names, addresses, dates of birth and copies of the cards themselves would be kept on file.
State Supreme Court Judge Philip Minardo ordered the city to retain all documents during the proceedings, which will continue next week. He was not expected to rule on the case for months.
Earlier in the week the de Blasio administration announced the IDNYC cards would remain free in 2017 as ten more cultural institutions signed on to the program. City Hall is now processing full enrollments to all residents regardless of immigration status under a new policy that does not involve retention of a cardholders’ personal background documents.
“The IDNYC program started with the simple idea of bridging divides between people and government, so that all New Yorkers have access to the resources they need to live full, productive lives here in NYC,” de Blasio said. “We’re keeping IDNYC free in 2017, so that all city residents can feel confident interacting with the NYPD, entering their child’s school, obtaining city services, and so much more.”
Cardholders have access to free memberships at 38 of the city’s premier cultural organizations, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Queens Museum, Flushing Town Fall and the Queens Theatre.
“I am excited that so many of our benefits partners are returning for 2017, and we are welcoming some great new institutions to the IDNYC family,” he said. “With their partnership, we’re giving more New Yorkers access to culture, arts, fitness and a long list of enriching opportunities.”
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), prime sponsor of the legislation that created the municipal identification card, is hoping more families will sign up for the program.
“I am thrilled that IDNYC benefits will be expanded to include even more free memberships and reduced-price tickets to the world-class institutions that make our city one of the greatest places on earth,” Dromm said. “IDNYC is available to all New Yorkers regardless of gender identity, immigration status or homelessness. It connects cardholders with a multitude of services and is a great way to show NYC pride.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr