Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito yesterday announced that the IDNYC Program would remain free in 2017, and is now processing full enrolments under a new policy that does not involve the retention of cardholders’ personal background documents.
But the announcement came as Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis (R-Bay Ridge, Staten Island) kept the pressure on today against destroying any personal documents to the roughly million people who signed up for IDNYC thus far on the grounds they may be needed for investigations of possible terrorism and other criminal activities.
“The IDNYC program started with the simple idea of bridging divides between the people and government, so that all New Yorkers have access to the resources they need to live full, productive lives here in NYC, said de Blasio. “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.”
The IDNYC program started back in early 2015 with the intention of providing undocumented immigrants access to social and educational services while still providing official documentation for opening bank accounts and interacting with the police.
However, since the election of President-Elect Donald Trump in November the fears of immigrants have increased as many worry that he will use the data to deport undocumented immigrants as he promised during his campaign.
De Blasio in response pledged to keep the information protected, saying he would go so far as destroying the data if necessary. Under a legal clause, set-up at the time IDNYC cards were created, the city is allowed to destroy the personal data of the estimated 900,000 people who signed up for IDNYC if an anti-immigrant administration came to power in Washington.
But Malliotakis, along with Republican Assemblyman Ron Castorina (Staten Island), blocked this clause when they successfully filed a restraining order on destroying any personal data acquired through the municipal ID program. Yesterday morning they announced another ally, attorney Ravi Batra, as co-counsel on their lawsuit. Batra will offer his services pro bono as co-counsel on their lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against destroying the records.
While New Yorkers are among the most compassionate Americans, as we take care of our neighbors in their time of need or stress, we are duty-bound by our sacred honor to protect and defend the Constitution, and its core exceptionalism of a separated powers regime, from enemies foreign and domestic. Though I’m a registered Democrat, I am proud to join this team. We are New Yorkers and Americans first, and being compassionate, providing sanctuary, and enhancing public safety and national security are core bipartisan goals,” said Batra.
The Republican assembly members argue that city records should not be destroyed and documents provided to the city to obtain a government-issued identification card, whether by citizens, legal residents or illegal immigrants, should be retained.
State government transparency laws require that government programs, including identification programs similar to state drivers licenses, be archived and subject to reasonable inspection by members of the public, they argued as reported earlier in a KCP story.
The parties return to court tomorrow for a hearing to determine whether the de Blasio Administration has the authority to destroy documents submitted in support of the issuance of IDNYC cards.
All city residents age 14 and above are eligible to get a municipal ID card, and enrollment is free for anyone who applies in 2017. All IDNYC applicants must have documentation that proves identity and residency in New York City. The City will protect the confidentiality of all IDNYC card applications and will not ask applicants about their immigration status.
“I welcome the 10 new cultural partners joining IDNYC with open arms and strongly encourage others to jump on board now. This free ID for all New Yorkers is already connecting over 900,000 residents with excellent benefits. IDNYC shows we can promote better communities with innovations that promote civic participation,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca (Sunset Park, Red Hook), Chair of the Committee on Immigration.
Joining a diverse group of benefits partners, IDNYC also welcomes 10 new 2017 cultural institution partners including the Museum of Arts and Design, China Institute, The Drawing Center, Symphony Space, Museum at Eldridge Street, Film Forum, Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, St. George Theatre, Center for Performance Research, Jacques Marchais Center for Tibetan Art.
“The IDNYC card is a passport to the cultural and civic life of the world’s greatest city,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson. “Brooklyn Public Library is thrilled to help the residents of our diverse borough access the many benefits of participating in the IDNYC program, including a wide range of library resources and materials.”
To apply for an IDNYC, call 311 and say “IDNYC” or visit nyc.gov/idnyc.