In a move that could make it easier for the incoming federal administration to deport almost a million unauthorized immigrants who have New York City issued ID's, a New York judge has ordered the City to stop the planned destruction of their information records pending a hearing.

The New York Times reports on December 21 that in response to a lawsuit brought by two Republican members of the State Assembly from Staten Island, State Supreme Court Judge Philip G. Minardo has ordered the destruction of these records, which was planned for December 31, to be postponed pending a hearing on whether such destruction should be prohibited.

The NY Times story explains that the ID's were issued over the past two years under a program called IDNYC, which has been popular with unauthorized immigrants who need government-issued ID's but who are unable to obtain drivers' licenses or social security cards.

As the article also points out, retaining personal information relating to the applicants, who are not asked about their immigration status when they apply for the ID, could damage the credibility of New York City agencies and law enforcement with immigrant communities, whose members rely on the confidentiality of the personal information which is provided by the applicants for the ID's.

The two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Castorina v. De Blasio, Ronald Castorina Jr. and Nicole Malliotakis, contend that the lawsuit is "not about immigration", though it is hard to see how maintaining information that could directly lead to the deportation of up to a million people could be unrelated to immigration.

However, Mr. Castorina and Ms. Malliotakis, who have also filed a freedom of information request, that was denied by New York City, to obtain the records of all IDNYC cardholders, (which could obviously lead to large scale intimidation and fear in New York's immigrant communities) claimed that the records should be made public in order to prevent "fraud or money laundering" (!).

However, just as is the case with the attempts of Republican legislators in a number of states, with the help of Trump adviser Kris Kobach, to pass laws disenfranchising minority voters under the pretext of preventing virtually non-existent "voter fraud", the plaintiffs in the above lawsuit did not cite any actual instance of alleged fraud or money laundering under the above program - many of whose users live in homeless shelters and are unlikely to have very much money to "launder".

The attempt to preserve these confidential personal records for possible use as a weapon of harassment and fear, if not actual deportation, against almost a million immigrants in New York City, also gives rise to a larger issue - one which affects not only immigrants but also American citizens as well:

How much personal, private or confidential information relating to the lifestyles, political opinions and religious beliefs of ordinary Americans will governmental authorities at all levels have available to use in order to browbeat, intimidate, or terrify them into following the orders and dictates of a new administration led by an incoming president who, during and after his campaign, did not become known for tolerating opinions or expression of views different from his own; and who still has left open the possibility that he may seek to register US citizens who belong to a religion he opposes and, that he may ban immigrants who belong to that religion from coming to the United States? See:

Who else may be required to register in or be banned from entering the United States for holding views or adhering to beliefs that the new administration doesn't like?

In this connection, one can note reports that the Trump administration may be planning to purge federal employees who support environmental causes.

Could there one day soon be a similar purge of federal employees who were involved with pro-immigrant programs (such as, perhaps, DACA), or who may have unpopular religious views or affiliations?

In this connection, see President Richard Nixon's attempt to find out which Jews were working for the federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics (which now publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook - OOH -that is so important in connection with H-1B petitions):

Could the Castorina v. De Blasio lawsuit, while ostensibly being aimed mainly at immigrants, be the gateway to a police state controlling the lives, and thoughts, of the American people as well?

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law