The identities of thousands of New Haven residents holding municipal ID cards will remain confidential, after Wednesdayâ€™s ruling by the state Freedom of Information Commission.
New Haven began the controversial Elm City Resident Card program about a year ago, offering ID cards to all residents, including illegal immigrants. The question facing the FOIA Commission was whether names, addresses, and photographs of cardholders were required to be publicly disclosed. Journalist Christopher Powell of Manchester and Anti-illegal immigration activist Dustin Gold of North Branford petitioned for the information.
Last month a FOIA hearing officer recommended that the city be allowed to withhold cardholdersâ€™ identities, because of specific, credible threats of violence against immigrants and New Haven city officials. At Wednesdayâ€™s full commission hearing, Deborah Torres, attorney for the Association of Cardholders, said people with foreign-sounding names would be especially at risk.
"The list itself obviously does not identify the immigration status of any cardholder but the concern is - is that the list will be used, and through racial profiling and other means, people will be targeted for harassment and/or physical harm."
After a nearly 2 hour hearing, the commission voted 3-1 to allow the card holdersâ€™ records to remain confidential. Outside the hearing room, complainant Chris Powell said the decision weakens Connecticutâ€™s Freedom of Information Law..
"â€¦and it construes CTâ€™s homeland security law to require secrecy for identification documents issued to illegal aliens such as those who attacked the United States on September 11th 2001."
Powell says the complainants will consider options for appeal.