ST. GEORGE — Destroying IDNYC documentation as a way to protect immigrants if President-elect Donald Trump moves forward with deportation plans could result in legal action against the city, Staten Island politicians warned.
But Republican Assembly members Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina called on the city to retain the information over security concerns.
The politicians said deleting it would make it impossible to trace people who obtained the cards fraudulently and harder to investigate if they used the ID to commit a crime.
"If something were to occur, if someone is using one of those ID cards to access a public building, how are we supposed to trace them to that card?" Malliotakis asked.
"What documents did they use? How are we going to start that investigation by destroying what is now what I consider government documents?"
"There are bad actors out there and we're opening up the gates," said Castorina, who said he would consider legal action if the city deletes the data.
"If they want to commit a crime they now have an easy way to do it under the veil of government."
In 2015, de Blasio launched the IDNYC program to provide identification cards to residents like undocumented immigrants, the formerly incarcerated and transgender individuals for whom getting regular identification is difficult.
The program has had more than 900,000 applications since it launched, according to the mayor's office. IDNYC was also crafted with a "destroy in case of Tea Party" clause that would allow for the deletion of application data.
Since Trump — who made promises to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants on the campaign trail — was elected, de Blasio said he would not turn over the data and is considering using the clause.
Malliotakis pointed to a 9/11 Commission report that found the terrorists used fake documents to attain drivers licenses.
The politicians also blasted the IDNYC program itself with Castorina claiming it's "more difficult for you to obtain a Costco membership" with a huge potential for fraud, despite the city saying it has a strict vetting process.
"We rely on law enforcement professionals from the NYPD to set the bar for security, and IDNYC consistently meets this high standard," said Rosemary Boeglin, spokeswoman for the mayor's office.
"Claims that IDNYC is being used by those intending serious harm is reckless fear-mongering — the IDNYC application process is similar to DMVs across the country, highly trained staff use state-of-the-art technology to identify instances of fraud, and IDNYC cannot be used to obtain a driver’s license, board a plane or cross a border."
Obtaining an IDNYC works on a point system — similar to getting a driver's license, but without the need for a Social Security number. At least one of the documents must be a photo ID, according to the city.
"We're talking about very, very sparse information at best," Castorina said.
Since it started, only 92 instances of suspected fraud have been detected, according to the Gotham Gazette. All of those were unsuccessful in getting the ID cards.