FPI / February 9, 2020
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday threatened to sue the Trump administration for its decision to block New York residents from access to the government’s Trusted Travelers programs.
Cuomo described the administration’s action as “extortion” and “an abuse of power.”
The Trump administration’s response — bring it on.
“My job is to make sure the program maintains its integrity, so individuals in New York are processed and evaluated the same as individuals in Michigan or Minnesota or California,” acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
“I’m happy to get sued for doing our job,” Wolf said.
Related: Homeland Security blocks New Yorkers from Trusted Travelers Program, February 6, 2020
One of the programs from which New Yorkers are being blocked is Global Entry. The program gives those arriving in the U.S. expedited passage through customs for five years following a background check and interview with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It’s also linked to the department’s “TSA Pre-Check” program, giving most Global Entry members expedited passage through airport security.
The Trump administration issued the new restrictions in response to New York’s new “Green Light Law,” which allows illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses in New York, and limits immigration authorities’ access to that license data.
DHS said that it needs access to state DMV information in order to properly vet applicants to its Trusted Traveler programs.
New York’s legislation restricting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) access to the records “makes us less safe and shields criminals,” CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said in a statement announcing the change.
“We recognize that many New York residents and businesses will be negatively affected by this change, but we cannot compromise the safety and security of our homeland,” Morgan said. “When states take negative measures that hinder our ability to protect our great country, we must respond.”
Wolf said New York is the only state that restricts CBP access to its data across the board, “not only for immigration purposes, but for law enforcement purposes, customs purposes, and also for trade and travel facilitation purposes.”
The government’s move to terminate New York’s access to the programs is expected to affect 175,000 New Yorkers by the end of the year, as well as slow down vehicle exports from the state.
In announcing plans to sue, New York State Attorney General Letitia James said the ban “is political retribution, plain and simple.”