To protect undocumented immigrants from the possibility of deportation under President-elect Donald Trump, New York City will no longer hold onto data collected from those who apply for a municipal ID card.
“The IDNYC program will be transitioning to a policy that does not involve the retention of cardholders’ personal background documents,” according to a joint statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio's office and the City Council. “We expect to begin processing complete applications under the new policy in January.”
IDNYC cards are used as a legal form of identification for New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status. It allows holders to open bank accounts, get memberships to city libraries and museums, qualify for discounts and other benefits.
Card applicants still need to bring documents proving their identity to obtain an IDNYC card, but the city will no longer retain information from those documents.
Such personal data is still on file from the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are already cardholders, and the city has until Dec. 31 to decide what to do with that information. A provision of the law put into place at the beginning of the IDNYC program allows the information to be destroyed up until the end of this year.
Some city officials disagree with the impending change.
“It is unconscionable that the City of New York would distribute nearly 900,000 identification cards, then destroy all the documents applicants used to apply for those cards,” Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said at a press conference on Dec. 5. “This data could be helpful in the future to investigate a crime perpetrated with the use of an IDNYC card.”
Malliotakis and Assemblyman Ron Castorina, both Republicans, said they “commenced legal action” to keep the information obtained from IDNYC card applications. They also said that the identification program enables fraud, with one of the finding from the “The 9/11 Commission Report” was the discovery that some of the hijackers were able to secure fake IDs.
Responding to those allegations earlier this week, the mayor’s spokeswoman, Rosemary Boeglin, said that “IDNYC cannot be used to obtain a driver’s license, board a plane or cross a border” or apply for additional documents such as a passport.
A major cornerstone of Trump’s presidential campaign was his pledge to deport millions of undocumented immigrants. His pick for U.S. Attorney General, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is a strong proponent for tougher border control measures and has advocated for the reduction of legal immigration.