N.Y.C. OK’d to Destroy Information on Undocumented Immigrants

Veronica Ramirez, originally from Mexico, holds her 15-month-old son, Lora, as she waits in line to apply for a municipal identification card in New York City.

Veronica Ramirez, originally from Mexico, holds her 15-month-old son, Lora, as she waits in line to apply for a municipal identification card in New York City. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Two Republican Assembly members had sought the preservation of IDNYC documents held by the city.

New York City will be able to destroy IDNYC documents identifying undocumented immigrants after April 17, a Staten Island judge ruled Friday.

The documents, such as foreign passports, were used to apply for the city’s municipal identification program in lieu of a driver’s license, which requires proof of citizenship.

In December, two Republican members of the State Assembly from Staten Island filed a lawsuit against New York City to preserve the documents, ostensibly to aid the Trump administration’s ramped-up efforts to identify and deport undocumented immigrants.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, wants to purge all such information to avoid dealing with that prospect:

IDNYC cards function as a primary form of identification to gain admission to museums and entertainment venues, homeless shelters, schools and even the police department to report crimes.

"With this decision the State Supreme Court protected the personal information of a million New Yorkers,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We applaud the ruling and will fight any attempt to appeal it."

Assemblymembers Ron Castorina Jr. and Nicole Malliotakis have until April 17 to appeal Judge Philip Minardo’s decision, having secured a stay until then, which they’ve indicated they will do, according to DNAinfo New York.

“It’s my opinion that these ID cards are being administered in a very scant vetting process,” Castorina told The New York Times. “They put us all at risk and, as a result, the destruction of any type of government records, particularly those that are used to procure government-level identification, are a great cause of concern and make us all a lot less safe.”

Minardo held New York’s Freedom of Information Law doesn’t require the city to retain documents and their redaction upon request could cost up to $6 million.

"Much ado was made about the recent federal election of a Republican President with an immigration agenda and petitioners' support of the President," Minardo wrote, according to DNAinfo New York. "Notwithstanding these positions, this Court cannot make new law based up a political party's agenda."

Whether or not Immigration and Customs Enforcement rushes to try and obtain access to IDNYC’s documents cache in its 10-day window, which could be lengthened through the appeals process, remains to be seen.

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington D.C.

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