The city says it will officially transition to a policy requiring officials to dump personal information of New Yorkers applying for municipal IDs once Donald Trump becomes president. Meanwhile, Republican legislators are trying to keep the city from destroying records it has collected so far.
The municipal ID program is open to undocumented immigrant New Yorkers, in an effort to provide them with a way to open bank accounts, get library cards, access government buildings, and navigate other bureaucracies that require government-issued ID. The city requires applicants to provide backup documents to prove their identities, and has been keeping those documents on file since the program launched in 2014. But it's not clear what might happen with that information once deportation-hungry Trump is in office, and last month Mayor de Blasio pledged to do what he could to keep identifying information about undocumented immigrants from falling into the hands of federal officials.
Yesterday, de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced they would adopt new policies to stop keeping identifying information for applicants come January. "The IDNYC program will be transitioning to a policy that does not involve the retention of cardholders’ personal background documents," the mayor said in a statement.
Efforts to shield the identifying information of immigrants who applied to the program have been threatened by two Staten Island Republican state legislators, who claim destroying the documents would violate New York's Freedom of Information Law. Though the 2014 law creating the municipal identification program comes with a prescient clause that allows the city to destroy any records submitted by applicants on Dec. 31, 2016—a clause put in place presumably in case a Republican won the 2016 election—Assemblymembers Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina (this guy!) would prefer it be easier for Trump to throw folks out of the country.
Yesterday, the Appellate Division court agreed to temporarily bar the city from tossing documents, a move cheered by the two Assemblymembers. "Today was an important victory. And not just for us, but for the people of this city who treasure the values of public safety, government transparency and the rule of law," they said in a statement.
More than 900,000 New Yorkers have signed up for the ID program since it launched in 2014, and de Blasio says he'll do what he can to protect their information. "It will not leave the hands of New York City government,” he said yesterday. "It will be kept here and at the appropriate time destroyed so it will not fall into the hands of other levels of government."