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NYCLU pulls support for NYC's Municipal ID plan

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference at City Hall on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, in Manhattan. Credit: Louis Lanzano

Mayor Bill de Blasio planned to sign into law Thursday a city-issued ID program to aid immigrants who entered illegally, even as the New York Civil Liberties Union reversed its support of the legislation, saying law enforcement agencies could too easily access cardholders' sensitive information.

The NYCLU said records submitted to qualify for the New York City ID, including pay stubs and children's educational records -- as well as Social Security numbers from applicants here legally -- can be requested by the NYPD, FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and others "without having to show probable cause."

"And if they are requested, the city has no obligation to even notify the person so they might be able to defend their own privacy," NYCLU advocacy director Johanna Miller said in a statement Wednesday.

The ID plan, which the City Council last month overwhelmingly approved, will be available to residents regardless of immigration status. They will help them access city services and embolden them to report crime without fear of deportation, supporters said.

De Blasio spokeswoman Maibe Ponet said the mayor's office is "unequivocally committed" to protecting the information collected. "Law enforcement will not have access to any of the data related to this program except subject to a judicial warrant or subpoena," she said in a statement.

Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn), a bill co-sponsor, said accountability measures are in place. The council will receive quarterly reports on subpoenas issued, the number of cards distributed and more, he said.

The NYCLU's Miller said in an interview that a subpoena doesn't carry a high enough probable-cause standard. The group had supported the original ID program bill, which barred the city from retaining personal documents.

De Blasio presided Wednesday over a public hearing at which 13 people -- including immigrants and civic leaders -- testified in support of the municipal ID.

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