GOP Pols Vow to Push Ahead With Lawsuit to Stop NYC From Deleting Files of Undocumented Immigrants

Nicole Malliotakis and Ronald Castorina will appeal a judge's decision that New York City can purge the records of its municipal identification program.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis. Ross Barkan/Observer

The Staten Island Republicans who filed a lawsuit against the city to stop it from purging the databanks of its municipal identification program—believed to contain the personal information of thousands of undocumented said they will “pursue further options” to prevent it after a judge ruled in the city’s favor.

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Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Phillip Minardo ruled this morning that Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Assemblyman Ronald Castorina lacked legal standing to sue the city over its plans to purge the files of the IDNYC program, which was crafted to grant a government-verified proof of identity to those lacking other forms of paperwork. The City Council deliberately inserted language in the legislation that created the identification cards that granted the city power to wipe the records at the end of 2016, in the event that a deportation-happy president assumed power in Washington—but the GOP pols filed a Freedom of Information Law request for the documents, then sued to stop the city from destroying them.

Malliotakis said it’s “disappointing” they lost on a “procedural issue of standing as opposed to the merits of the case,” and promised to press ahead—reiterating concerns that expunging the records could compromise future criminal investigations.

“What does it mean if a government entity is allowed to destroy documents that are FOILable and subject to judicial inquiries, and could be used to aid law enforcement?” she said in an emailed statement. “We intend to pursue further options to prevent the mayor’s irresponsible actions that put all New Yorkers at risk.”

The pair of conservative lawmakers won an early victory against the administration in December, when a court initially granted their request for an injunction to keep the city from dumping the files. This prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, named as parties in the GOP suit, to announce they would restructure the program to no longer retain images of cardholders’ applications.

Minardo extended that stay until April 27 to grant Malliotakis and Castorina time to appeal.

De Blasio, for his part, cheered the judge’s ruling.

“With this decision the State Supreme Court protected the personal information of a million New Yorkers,” de Blasio said in a statement. “IDNYC was created to protect people and connect them to vital services and today’s decision ensures it will continue to do just that. We applaud the ruling and will fight any attempt to appeal it.”

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Brooklyn Councilman Carlos Menchaca similarly said they plan to “do everything in our power to fight any attempt to appeal it.”

“Today’s State Supreme Court ruling is a win for all new Yorkers,” they said in a joint statement. “This decision, which protects New Yorkers’ personal data, validates what we’ve known from the beginning: that all residents—regardless of their gender identity, permanent address, or immigration status—deserve access to all of our city’s critical resources.”

GOP Pols Vow to Push Ahead With Lawsuit to Stop NYC From Deleting Files of Undocumented Immigrants