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City Sued in Effort to Stop Destruction of IDNYC Data, Pols Say

By Nicholas Rizzi | December 5, 2016 3:18pm
 Assembly members Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina filed a suit against the city to stop the deletion of documents used to apply for IDNYC.
Assembly members Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina filed a suit against the city to stop the deletion of documents used to apply for IDNYC.
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DNAinfo/Trevor Kapp

ST. GEORGE — The city has been sued in an effort to stop the destruction of IDNYC documentation if President-elect Donald Trumps moves forwards with plans to deport illegal immigrants.

Republican Assembly members Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina filed a lawsuit in Staten Island Supreme Court asking that the city be forced to save data gathered when people applied for the municipal ID, according to officials.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he would purge them rather than hand it over to the federal government. The suit claims that doing so would violate the state's Freedom of Information Laws, according to Castorina.

"The records we feel are very pertinent and important to governmental purposes," he said.

"These documents are not hard copies, they are stored on a hard drive, so there really is no reason why they should be removed from the system."

The politicians last week said destroying the information was a security risk as it would make it impossible to trace people who use the card.

When asked about the suit in an unrelated press conference Monday, de Blasio said a legal clause set up when the IDNYC cards were created allows the city to not hand over the information, and said the city would make sure to "follow through on that."

"If you look at the original legislation, which is the law of this city, it was quite clear that we were not going to allow ourselves to be in a situation where those records are turned over to the federal government," he said.

"The reason people were willing to trust us is that we made it very clear we would never be in a situation where it would lead to their deportation and we're going to keep that pledge."

The Republican lawmakers argued destroying the documents violates the state's FOIL laws, even though the information would likely be redacted if released.

Castorina repeatedly said he doesn't believe the data could be used for deportation, and that Trump will not follow through on campaign promises to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants — and the assemblyman wouldn't be in favor of that plan.

De Blasio launched the IDNYC program in 2015 to give identification cards to residents including undocumented immigrants, the formerly incarcerated and transgender individuals for who getting regular ID is difficult.

The program has had more than 900,000 application since it launched and was crafted with a "destroy in case of Tea Party" clause to delete data used to get the cards.

After Trump was elected, de Blasio promised not to turn over the data and said he's considering using the clause.

While the city previously said the IDNYC application process is similar to the DMV's, both politicians claimed it was too easy to get a card, and pointed out that the city keeps all the records used to get driver's licenses.

Since the program started, only 92 instances of suspected fraudulent applications have been detected and all of them were unsuccessful in getting the ID cards, the Gotham Gazette reported.