City of Detroit suspends ID program after concerns over possible data exposure

Nearly 900 residents possibly affected.

Downtown Detroit skyline

Downtown Detroit skyline. Photo Credit: Jake Neher, WDET

More than 880 Detroiters who applied for the city’s municipal ID program may have had their personal information exposed to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The Detroit ID program was launched in 2016 to provide photo identification for city residents regardless of citizenship status. Immigration advocates say the program’s vendor sells data to credit agencies, which shares the information with ICE.

The city used a company called MoCaFi to run the Detroit ID program. Christine Sauvé, a chair of Detroit’s immigration task force, says MoCaFi has a working relationship with the government.

“They share data with clearinghouses that are accessible to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE,” stated Sauvé.

Detroit City Councilmember Gabriela Santiago-Romero believes the program puts Detroiters at risk.

“This should have never happened in the first place,” Santiago-Romero says. “We’re asking for there to be corrective action and for there to be true collaborative working relationships with the immigration task force and our members moving forward.”

Seydi Sarr is part of Detroit’s Immigration Task Force. She says while the Detroit ID program has been paused, the city has compromised the safety of undocumented residents.

“We know what it looks like and what it feels like when you are a Black immigrant and being arrested by police,” Sarr says. “We know that you can die because it just happened to Patrick Lyoya.”

Lyoya was the Black man shot and killed by a Grand Rapids police officer earlier this year. According to the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, there are about 20,000 undocumented residents living in Wayne County, 8,000 being in Detroit.

Members of Detroit City Council are hoping to restart the ID program if they can do it without a third-party vendor.

Photo Credit: Jake Neher, WDET

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »

Author

  • Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.