New York won't keep ID card applicants' records in future

AP News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2016 9:30 PM
New York won't keep ID card applicants' records in future

NEW YORK (AP) — The city won't keep personal records from future applicants for its immigrant-friendly municipal ID cards, even as it has been temporarily blocked from destroying more than 900,000 current cardholders' records.

Mayoral spokeswoman Rosemary Boeglin said Wednesday the city would continue verifying but no longer retain copies of passports, birth certificates, educational records and other documents submitted by new applicants for IDNYC cards.

The cards are available to any New York City resident but were aimed particularly at those without other forms of ID, including the estimated 500,000 immigrants living illegally in the city.

The fate of cardholders' documents has become an issue as the new year approaches — and with it, a provision for destroying personal information before the inauguration of Republican President-elect Donald Trump, who has pledged to deport millions of people living in the country illegally.

For now, courts have ordered the city to retain the records. Two Republican state politicians sued, saying destroying the data would violate state public-records law.

An appeals court on Wednesday kept the order in place until Dec. 21, when the court could open or close a door to exercising a provision in city law for destroying the data by Dec. 31. The 2014 law partly reflected concern about the potential for a Republican president such as Trump.

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed not to let the federal government get the records to deport people, and Boeglin said officials were reviewing the city's options with a determination to protect the information.

"We are confident that we can keep IDNYC data private," she said.

The lawmakers who sued say the data are public records that the city can't legally destroy and that could help trace cardholders if they commit crimes or get IDs fraudulently.

The city administration "should not be able to pick and choose which laws it wishes to follow according to the political affiliation of whoever might occupy the White House," state Assembly members Ron Castorina and Nicole Malliotakis said in a statement Wednesday.

They didn't address the city's plan to stop keeping the records in the first place.

The plan got plaudits from Javier Valdes, of Make the Road New York, an advocacy group that pushed for the program.

"I think it's good policy that, moving forward, they're not going to be collecting the data," he said, but "we still want for the data collected prior to this to be discarded before President Trump gets sworn in."

Municipal ID programs began in 2007 in New Haven, Connecticut, and have expanded to about 10 cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

New York's program is the most ambitious. But the city notes that IDNYC cards can't be used to get driver's licenses, board planes or cross borders.

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Associated Press writer Deepti Hajela contributed to this report.