House lawmakers to launch probe into DHS excluding NY from Trusted Traveler Program
Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee announced Saturday that they are launching an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after the agency dmitted to making inaccurate statements regarding its decision to bar New York residents from participating in the Trusted Traveler Program (TTP).
The TTP streamlines customer check-ins through security at airports and international borders.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the border security subcommittee, sent a letter to acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) John Wagner requesting interviews and documents related to the statements they made in front of the committee and in court.
“The decision to exclude New York from Trusted Traveler programs always appeared to be political retribution and now we know it was,” Thompson and Rice said in a statement.
“It appears DHS officials made false statements to Congress – an intolerable turn of events for a Department charged with enforcing Federal law. Through our investigation, we will seek to understand why this happened and determine who is responsible,” they added.
DHS announced Thursday that it was restoring the TTP for New Yorkers “effective immediately” after New York state amended its “Green Light Law” in December that allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. The law had initially barred DHS from accessing information from the Department of Motor Vehicles unless ordered by a judge.
DHS argued that the original law infringed on national security efforts and barred the state from accessing the TTP.
The state of New York promptly sued the Trump administration over the decision, arguing that New York residents were being unfairly singled out for political purposes, considering other states and cities including Washington, D.C., have similar laws.
DHS officials falsely stated both in court and under congressional oath that no other states had similar programs.
DHS walked back those claims this week.
A Thursday court filing in the case said DHS and CBP “deeply regret the foregoing inaccurate or misleading statements and apologize to the court and [New York] for the need to make these corrections at this late stage.”
“These revelations undermine a central argument in defendants’ briefs and declarations to date: that CBP is not able to assure itself of an applicant’s low-risk status because New York fails to share relevant DMV information with CBP for TTP purposes,” the filing continued.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Friday that the DHS policy was “political exploitation” and that Wolf and his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, violated their oath of office and should be investigated by Congress.
“It was all politics all the time. It was all exploitation all the time. And they hurt this state because of it. You cannot use government for political exploitation,” he said at a press conference. “It is illegal, what they did. And I believe acting Secretary Wolf and acting Deputy Cuccinelli, they violated their oath of office.”
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