It’s official: New Haven won’t have to release the names of recipients of its immigrant-friendly ID cards, thanks to a ruling late Wednesday afternoon by the state Freedom of Information Commission.
The FOIC voted 3-1 at its Hartford headquarters to uphold a June 25 proposed decision by one of its members. That decision denied a request by opponents of the city’s immigration policies to release the 5,000-plus names. Opponents said they wanted to turn the names over to federal immigration authorities to try to sink the city’s immigrant-friendly policies.
Deborah Torres, attorney for Unidad Latina en Accion, one of the groups supporting the city’s position, credited the testimony of New Haveners on the front lines of immigration issues with helping to win the case.
“People who testified in person and were subject to cross-examination, people who deal on a continuous basis with people in immigrant communities, including documented and undocumented immigrants, talked about their perceptions of those populations — their fears, their concerns, how they perceived some of the statements of the complainants and other immigrant group,” Torres said. “They testified eloquently and at great length.”
In the end, commissioners expressed sympathy with the argument made by the city and its expert witnesses that threats of violence against city officials and immigrants in general warranted keeping the identities of cardholders secret. The cards — which entitle holders to access to city services like libraries and parks, and can be used to help open bank accounts — are not held just by immigrants, but they are designed to help immigrants integrate into city life.
The city’s police chief, the Fair Haven neighborhood’s top cop, and the state’s homeland security chief all testified in previous hearings that they believed that releasing the names would endanger public safety. A top city official received a death threat because of her role in crafting the ID program. (Click here, here and here to read about that. Click here to read the original FOIC decision that was upheld Wednesday.)