New York can destroy personal documents in ID program but not yet: judge

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 07, 2017 4:08 PM

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York judge ruled on Friday that New York City officials should be allowed to destroy copies of personal documents collected through a local identification card program aimed in part at helping illegal immigrants.

Judge Philip Minardo of New York's Supreme Court in Staten Island also ruled that the city must not destroy the documents until State Assembly members Ronald Castorina Jr. and Nicole Malliotakis, who challenged the destruction, have had a chance to appeal.

Within days of Donald Trump's election as U.S. president last November, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said the city would not share with the federal government personal data collected through the program, known as IDNYC.

The city launched the program in 2015, partly to make it easier for immigrants to get government-issued identification cards, which are necessary to apply for social services and open bank accounts. The ID cards can be obtained by anyone 14 years of age and older who presents proof of identity, such as a passport, and proof that they live in New York City, such as a utility bill.

"IDNYC was created to protect people and connect them to vital services and today's decision ensures it will continue to do just that," de Blasio said in a statement, joining other Democratic officials and immigrant advocacy groups in celebrating the ruling.

City regulations allow for copies of the documents to be kept on file for two years, then destroyed unless the issuing agency has a reason to keep them. Documents on file under this program were due to be destroyed on or before December 31, 2016.

The city, home to 8 million people, said last week it had issued more than a million cards.

Trump, a Republican, promised during his campaign to crack down on people entering or staying in the United States illegally.

New York City officials said they feared the personal data might be used to aid federal government deportation efforts.

Malliotakis and Castorina challenged the city's plan to destroy the records in December, arguing it would break the city's public-records laws and hinder law enforcement. They said they would appeal the decision.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen)