State Sen. Greg Ball (D-Patterson) slammed Mayor de Blasio’s municipal ID card legislation during a debate with Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) on “Up Close with Diana Williams” on Sunday morning.
The bill, which will be drafted by Dromm — a big advocate for immigration reform — was briefly discussed by the mayor during his State of the City Address two weeks ago.
The legislation would allow all New York City residents, regardless of immigration status, to obtain identification cards that will permit more people to open bank accounts and get leases and library cards.
But it wasn’t the library cards that got Ball agitated, it is the possibility that these IDs could lead to noncitizens voting in local elections.
“I think it’s sensationalist that [Dromm and de Blasio] want to give ID cards that have no identity and to suggest that those ID cards can be used to vote is even more sensationalist,” Ball said.
The senator referred to the legislation as the “de Blasio Terrorist Empowerment Act,” calling it an open invitation to terrorists and criminals to come to New York.
“More than 3,000 people died on 9/11,” Ball said. “That’s not sensationalist, that’s real life. Providing identities to people who hide in the shadows is only going to result in more crime.”
Dromm, whose district is mostly composed of both legal and illegal immigrants, said Ball’s statements are ludicrous and ignorant.
He also argued that the actions of a handful of people — most of whom were here legally — during the 9/11 attacks 13 years ago should not dictate how the United States treats millions of noncitizens.
“Immigrants are not terrorists and he should know better,” the councilman said. “It’s evil people who decide to be terrorists, not immigrants. What we need is good, secure measures to weed out terrorists without attacking immigrants. He should come to see the beautiful immigrant community who work and live in my district. Fifty-five percent of my constituents cannot vote for him.”
The councilman has sponsored a separate bill that would allow legal immigrants to vote in local elections.
Dromm asserted that Ball, who is up for re-election in a tight race, is pandering to his constituents by using fear-mongering tactics.
Ball also criticized Dromm for not adding an adequate vetting process for who would and would not be able to receive the ID cards.
“My concern is that there are people in New York City right now who want to hurt innocent Americans,” Ball said. “To allow these people to vote is not only unacceptable, it makes me wonder what planet this Daniel Dromm is living on because it’s certainly not mine. I think I’m giving a very moderate approach. I support comprehensive immigration reform but not in this way.”
Dromm swiftly replied by saying the bill has not been drafted yet.
“He doesn’t know what the legislation will and will not require because it hasn’t even been written yet,” the councilman said. “We’re in the process of writing this legislation right now, so for him to come out at this point without knowing the language of the bill is motivated by racists and xenophobics.”
Fellow state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Elmhurst) was also displeased with Ball’s statements.
“Senator Ball’s overheated anti-immigrant rhetoric stands in stark contrast with the view of many in law enforcement,” Peralta said. “Senator Ball seems not to be aware that municipal IDs have been used for years in cities from New Haven, Connecticut to San Francisco, California, where they have greatly improved cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
“He also seems unaware that all immigrant driver’s licenses, including the one I have proposed in New York and those already in place in 11 states and Washington, DC must be clearly distinguishable and meet with the approval of the Department of Homeland Security.”
Peralta and Dromm are among the many officials in favor of the bill.
Upon de Blasio announcing the proposal in his address, dozens of representatives hailed it as a stepping stone in improving immigrant relations and reform.
Even de Blasio’s mayoral opponent, Republican Joe Lhota, proposed a similar idea during his campaign.
Despite the legislation’s support, Ball said he plans to hold a hearing in New York City regarding the dangers of allowing the municipal ID bill to move forward.
“De Blasio better wake the heck up,” the senator said. “After Jerusalem, New York City is terror attack location number one.”
Peralta and Dromm still stand by the proposal.
“With municipal IDs and driver’s licenses, undocumented immigrants today would be able to better provide for their families, contribute more to the economy and fully integrate into the American mainstream, just as generations of immigrants of this country have before them,” Peralta said. “Lumping these hardworking immigrants in with terrorists is the worst kind of irresponsible.”