With a Donald Trump presidency on the horizon, New York City is making its IDNYC program more immigrant-friendly. Much like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), IDNYC essentially collected information on the undocumented immigrant community. Many feared that if Immigration Customs and Enforcement got this sensitive data, it could use the data to deport New Yorkers who came out of the shadows to sign up for the cards.
“IDNYC and DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] could conceivably have the same fate: Two programs intended to protect undocumented immigrants could have the ultimate effect of exposing them,” said Councilman Ritchie Torres, according to the New York Magazine. “It’s a cruel irony.”
Since Trump’s win, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has tried to assuage the fears that began intensifying during the election season for immigrant communities. Trump has vowed to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants that have made the United States their homes. With his unexpected win, de Blasio attempted to offer some comforting words. “We’re not going to take anything lying down,” he said at City Hall. “Anything we see as a threat to New Yorkers we will confront.”
At that time, he also told undocumented immigrants that the city was considering destroying the database that contained the personal information of almost 900,000 people. But this week, de Blasio’s office has decided to retool its strategy. “The IDNYC program will be transitioning to a policy that does not involve the retention of cardholders’ personal background documents,” de Blasio’s office and the City Council said in a joint statement, according to Metro New York. “We expect to begin processing complete applications under the new policy in January.”
However, the information that the city has already collected now hangs in the balance. Though de Blasio said that the city might destroy the files, Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Assemblyman Ron Castorina may stand in the way. The Republican officials are threatening legal action if the city expunges the data. “It is unconscionable that the City of New York would distribute nearly 900,000 identification cards, then destroy all the documents applicants use to apply for those cards,” Malliotakis said last week at a press conference. “This data could be helpful in the future to investigate a crime perpetrated with the use of an IDNYC card.”
Established in 2014 the program, IDNYC is granted to anyone – regardless of immigration status. Those with NYC IDs can use them to open bank accounts or get a library card. But the ID isn’t a valid form of ID for those trying to get driver’s license, boarding a plane, or applying for a passport. To protect immigrants from a Trump presidency, a provision was put in place earlier this year. The city can delete any personal information before the December 31 deadline.