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New York City and Republican state representatives who sued to block the destruction of records related to the city’s municipal ID program are battling in court over whether destroying the records would jeopardize public safety and if retaining them would leave the information vulnerable to hacking.

The legislation establishing the IDNYC program, which the New York City Council approved in 2014, contains a provision giving the commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Administration (HRA) the power to destroy records that applicants submitted to the IDNYC to obtain cards, such as copies of birth certificates and utility bills, by Dec. 31, 2016.

Almost 1 million municipal cards have been issued since the program began, and among those eligible are undocumented immigrants. Cardholders may use the IDs to access city services, enter public buildings and open accounts with participating banks.

Following the election of Donald Trump, who spoke of mass deportations in his run for the presidency, city leaders said publicly that they would protect the data submitted to IDNYC. On Dec. 7, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced that the HRA would cease retention of cardholders’ personal documents.

Republicans Ronald Castorina Jr., who represents Staten Island’s South Shore in the New York State Assembly, and Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island’s East Shore and a portion of Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood, sued to block the destruction of the records and for a judicial declaration that the IDNYC program runs afoul of the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

Castorina and Malliotakis say their suit is unrelated to Trump’s election or federal immigration policy and say that the program has a lax vetting process, that would-be terrorists could use the cards to start bank accounts and that destruction of applicants’ records could help wrongdoers cover their tracks. Castorina and Malliotakis are represented by Ravi Batra of the Law Firm of Ravi Batra and Jeffrey Alfano of the Law Firm of Jeffrey Alfano.

“This is an issue that involves the blood of Americans,” Castorina said Thursday during a daylong hearing on the case before Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Philip Minardo.

But John Miller, the New York City Police Department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, who testified at the hearing as a witness for the city, said that keeping the documents on file could leave the information vulnerable to hacking, thus leading to a “massive ID theft operation.”

Miller also said there are “legions of people” who come to the city without any “record of their existence,” which could lead them not to come forward to report crimes. With regard to concerns about IDNYC cards being used to open fraudulent bank accounts, he said safeguards typically in place at banks, such as video surveillance and meticulous recordkeeping, would make it easier to catch culprits than if they transferred money by other means.

“I hope every terrorist opens a bank account and uses it in the planning and execution of their plots,” Miller said.

Taking the stand later in the hearing, Castorina characterized Miller’s statements as “political mumbo-jumbo” during questioning by Assistant Corporation Counsel Patricia Miller, who appeared for the city. “It’s just a ridiculous thing to say,” Castorina said.

Nisha Agarwal, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, who also testified for the city, said during testimony that, while applicants’ underlying records will no longer be retained, the city will still keep copies of cardholders’ applications as well as copies of the cards issued.

The hearing ended without a ruling from Minardo and the parties discussed conducting testimony with additional witnesses, including a banking expert, in further proceedings this week. The city has moved to dismiss.

In addition to Miller, Assistant Corporation Counsel Richard Dearing appeared for the city.

Municipal ID programs began in 2007 when New Haven, Connecticut enacted its program and has since spread to at least eight cities across the country, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, and proposals to establish such programs in other cities have run into obstacles. According to a white paper on municipal IDs prepared for the city of El Paso, Texas, which is considering its own program, the state governments of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin moved to block Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, respectively, from issuing municipal IDs.

New York City and Republican state representatives who sued to block the destruction of records related to the city’s municipal ID program are battling in court over whether destroying the records would jeopardize public safety and if retaining them would leave the information vulnerable to hacking.

The legislation establishing the IDNYC program, which the New York City Council approved in 2014, contains a provision giving the commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Administration (HRA) the power to destroy records that applicants submitted to the IDNYC to obtain cards, such as copies of birth certificates and utility bills, by Dec. 31, 2016.

Almost 1 million municipal cards have been issued since the program began, and among those eligible are undocumented immigrants. Cardholders may use the IDs to access city services, enter public buildings and open accounts with participating banks.

Following the election of Donald Trump, who spoke of mass deportations in his run for the presidency, city leaders said publicly that they would protect the data submitted to IDNYC. On Dec. 7, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced that the HRA would cease retention of cardholders’ personal documents.

Republicans Ronald Castorina Jr., who represents Staten Island’s South Shore in the New York State Assembly, and Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island’s East Shore and a portion of Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood, sued to block the destruction of the records and for a judicial declaration that the IDNYC program runs afoul of the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

Castorina and Malliotakis say their suit is unrelated to Trump’s election or federal immigration policy and say that the program has a lax vetting process, that would-be terrorists could use the cards to start bank accounts and that destruction of applicants’ records could help wrongdoers cover their tracks. Castorina and Malliotakis are represented by Ravi Batra of the Law Firm of Ravi Batra and Jeffrey Alfano of the Law Firm of Jeffrey Alfano.

“This is an issue that involves the blood of Americans,” Castorina said Thursday during a daylong hearing on the case before Staten Island Supreme Court Justice Philip Minardo.

But John Miller , the New York City Police Department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, who testified at the hearing as a witness for the city, said that keeping the documents on file could leave the information vulnerable to hacking, thus leading to a “massive ID theft operation.”

Miller also said there are “legions of people” who come to the city without any “record of their existence,” which could lead them not to come forward to report crimes. With regard to concerns about IDNYC cards being used to open fraudulent bank accounts, he said safeguards typically in place at banks, such as video surveillance and meticulous recordkeeping, would make it easier to catch culprits than if they transferred money by other means.

“I hope every terrorist opens a bank account and uses it in the planning and execution of their plots,” Miller said.

Taking the stand later in the hearing, Castorina characterized Miller’s statements as “political mumbo-jumbo” during questioning by Assistant Corporation Counsel Patricia Miller, who appeared for the city. “It’s just a ridiculous thing to say,” Castorina said.

Nisha Agarwal, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, who also testified for the city, said during testimony that, while applicants’ underlying records will no longer be retained, the city will still keep copies of cardholders’ applications as well as copies of the cards issued.

The hearing ended without a ruling from Minardo and the parties discussed conducting testimony with additional witnesses, including a banking expert, in further proceedings this week. The city has moved to dismiss.

In addition to Miller, Assistant Corporation Counsel Richard Dearing appeared for the city.

Municipal ID programs began in 2007 when New Haven, Connecticut enacted its program and has since spread to at least eight cities across the country, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, and proposals to establish such programs in other cities have run into obstacles. According to a white paper on municipal IDs prepared for the city of El Paso, Texas, which is considering its own program, the state governments of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin moved to block Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, respectively, from issuing municipal IDs.