New Yorkers blocked from Global Entry program over immigrant license law

The Department of Homeland Security has blocked New Yorkers from enrolling in Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs (TTPs) in response to the state’s law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. 

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfTop House Oversight Democrats ask DHS to reduce immigrant detainee population Democratic lawmakers demand government stop deporting unaccompanied children Hillicon Valley: Malicious emails spike amid coronavirus | Real ID deadline delayed one year | Trump officials to limit Huawei's chip access MORE wrote in a letter to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles that New York law forbids the state from supplying data to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Wolf said the department utilizes that data to get information about criminal networks and to verify that individuals are of low-risk status and eligible for TTPs with their criminal records. He called New York’s Green Light Law, which allows undocumented residents to apply for a driver’s license while protecting their information from federal immigration agencies, “disappointing.”

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“They can’t enroll or reenroll in these Trusted Traveler Programs that Customs and Border Protection offers because we no longer have access to make sure that they meet those program requirements.” Wolf said on “Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonThe ghosts of the Bernanke-Yellen Fed continue to haunt Americans Is the coronavirus igniting a war of all against all? 74 journalism professors accuse Fox News of spreading coronavirus misinformation MORE Tonight” on Fox News Wednesday. “So, we need to do our job.”

DHS says that just in the last year in New York it identified 149 child predators, identified or rescued 105 victims of exploitation and human trafficking, arrested 230 gang members and captured 6,487 pounds of narcotics.

Wolf’s letter mentions four specific programs run by CBP that New York residents would not qualify for: Global Entry for international travel, NEXUS for travel between U.S. and Canada, Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection for travel to and from Canada and Mexico only and the Free and Secure Trade program for truck drivers shipping commercial products across the U.S.-Canada or Mexico borders. 

The letter does specifically not mention the Transportation Security Administration's Precheck as a restricted program. 

New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoOvernight Health Care: Trump calls report on hospital shortages 'another fake dossier' | Trump weighs freezing funding to WHO | NY sees another 731 deaths | States battle for supplies | McConnell, Schumer headed for clash Overnight Defense: Navy chief resigns over aircraft carrier controversy | Trump replaces Pentagon IG | Hospital ship crew member tests positive for coronavirus NRA reportedly lays off dozens of employees amid coronavirus MORE (D) approved the Green Light Law last summer, allowing foreign-issued documents to verify an individuals’ age and identity when applying for driver’s licenses. The legislation says the state would only provide the data to immigration enforcement agencies if ordered by a judge. 

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Cuomo told WAMC in Albany that the Trump administration's move was "pure politics" and alleged it "never called" the state in advance.

"This is unbounded arrogance, disrespect of the rule of law, hyper-political government, and this is another form of extortion," he said.

The governor added that other states have similar laws, adding that "New York is their favorite target."

The U.S. Travel Association, the top travel industry trade group, also criticized the decision in a statement Thursday.

"Travel should not be politicized," said Tori Emerson Barnes, the group's executive vice president for public affairs and policy, in a statement.

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"Trusted traveler programs enhance our national security because they provide greater certainty regarding a person's identity, citizenship, and criminal background. Suspending enrollment in Global Entry and other trusted traveler programs only undermines travel security and efficiency," she added. "We are in contact with the Department of Homeland Security to convey this message."

Rep. Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedLawmakers outline proposals for virtual voting Infrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Overnight Defense: Pentagon curtails more exercises over coronavirus | House passes Iran war powers measure | Rocket attack hits Iraqi base with US troops MORE (R-N.Y.), who has condemned the New York law, said he warned that the state would face repercussions for enacting the legislation.

“This is yet another result of one-party extremist in Albany control hurting New Yorkers, and we warned of this impending outcome two weeks ago," he said in a statement. "As someone who lived through 9/11, I am astonished how Governor Cuomo could disregard the words of the 9/11 Commission where they noted ‘For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons.’"

Updated at 1:22 p.m.