In 2015, New York City spent $8.4 million launching IDNYC, a municipal ID card program with the goal of providing government-issued identification to NYC residents who cannot obtain such documents from state or federal authorities. In doing so, the city helped an estimated half a million people to do things they could not otherwise do, like cash a check, open a bank account, enter public buildings (like schools), and obtain a library card. For people living without a valid form of identification, like NYC’s homeless and undocumented immigrants, the program has made life easier.
Despite the program’s popularity, critics fear that the city’s possession of the cardholder’s personal information could potentially violate cardholders’ privacy. With a judge’s approval, point out civil liberties advocates, the information could be subject to review by immigration authorities or law enforcement. And since Donald Trump’s winning of the presidency, city officials are now especially concerned that IDNYC puts undocumented immigrants at risk for deportation.
In response to these fears, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that the city will safeguard the identities of IDNYC cardholders, promising to delete personal information at the end of the year. Critics have argued that destroying the information would be irresponsible, since it would leave authorities helpless in trying to verify the cardholder’s identity and incapable of establishing the means by which the individual acquired subsequent documentation. Mayor de Blasio’s announcement has nonetheless provided some reassurance to undocumented immigrants, uncertain of their future in the U.S. in the aftermath of Trump’s election.
CRAIN’S New York Business reports that the program remains popular: people like Alberto Saldivia took advantage of the program this year, after spending 15 years in the U.S. without legal authorization. Juan Rosas Carrera, a 48-year-old construction worker, living in the U.S. illegally for 17 years, has made an appointment to obtain an ID card and looks forward to opening a bank account. According to CRAIN’S, Carrera feels it’s worth the worry, telling the publication, “I feel safe in New York. I also think that if you don’t have a criminal record, nothing bad will really happen…But I am a bit worried about Trump.”
If you are seeking assistance with deportation or another immigration matter, call the experienced immigration attorneys at Bretz & Coven LLP at (212) 267-2555.