Trump Blocks New Yorkers From Joining Global Traveler Programs
(Bloomberg) -- The Trump administration blocked New York residents from joining programs that travelers use to quickly move through airport security and customs, citing new limits on federal access to state driver’s license data aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Thursday announced the department will no longer let state residents sign up or renew enrollments in Trusted Traveler programs, which include Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST, effective immediately.
The TSA’s PreCheck program, which covers domestic travel, was not among those affected by the suspension, according to acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli.
New York residents currently enrolled in the Global Entry program can continue using their passes until they expire, but between 150,000 and 200,000 people per year will be unable to renew their participation, Cuccinelli said Thursday on a call with reporters.
The Global Entry program provides people arriving in the U.S. with expedited passage through customs for five years following a brief background check and interview with DHS personnel. It has an added advantage by being linked to the department’s “TSA Pre-Check” program, giving most Global Entry members expedited passage through security on domestic flights.
The move could snarl traffic at the U.S.-Canada border, where residents of upstate New York regularly commute back and forth to go to Canadian jobs or visit friends and family. Homeland Security also warned that exporting used vehicles to Canada would be significantly delayed because the federal government would no longer accept electronic records from the state.
“These are the unfortunate consequences of New York’s Green Light Law,” Cuccinelli said.
The action was taken a day after President Donald Trump condemned so-called sanctuary cities as a Democratic scourge in his State of the Union address. He highlighted the arrest of an undocumented migrant in the recent rape and murder of an elderly woman in New York City.
Wolf, in a letter to New York officials, said the state’s new Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act -- commonly known as the “Green Light Law,” which took effect in mid-December -- compromised the Customs and Border Patrol agency’s ability “to confirm whether an individual applying for TTP membership meets program eligibility requirements.”
“New York’s ‘Green Light Law’ is ill-conceived and the Department is forced to take this action to ensure the integrity of our Trusted Traveler Programs,” Wolf said in a statement. “It’s very clear: this irresponsible action has consequences.”
According to the website of the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, the law allows “all New Yorkers age 16 and older to apply for a standard, not for federal purpose, non-commercial driver license or learner permit regardless of their citizenship or lawful status in the United States.”
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, said late Wednesday night that the Homeland Security action was “obviously political retaliation by the federal government and we’re going to review our legal options.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, and Trump have clashed over immigration and other issues.
Cuccinelli said other states considering laws that would shield motorist information from the federal government -- including Washington, which also shares a border with Canada -- should know that Homeland Security would impose similar restrictions on its residents.
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