State will sue feds over ban

New York State Attorney General Letitia A. James. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

ALBANY — State Attorney General Letitia James says she will sue the Trump administration over its ban on state residents applying for global entry and other expedited border-crossing programs.

On Thursday, Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, sent a letter to the state Department of Motor Vehicles saying New York residents will no longer be eligible to enroll or re-enroll in four trusted traveler programs, which allow users quicker reentry into the country when driving or flying from abroad.

In response, the attorney general on Friday announced that her office intends to sue Homeland Security over the new federal policy that prohibits New Yorkers from enrolling or re-enrolling in the federal government’s trusted traveler programs.

In her statement, she accused the Trump administration of targeting and bullying New York residents.

“This is political retribution, plain and simple, and while the president may want to punish New York for standing up to his xenophobic policies, we will not back down,” she said.

“This new policy will negatively impact travelers, workers, commerce, and our economy, so we will fight the president’s shortsighted crusade against his former home.”

The Trump administration’s decision comes after New York enacted the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, commonly known as the Green Light Law, which took effect in December 2019. The Green Light Law makes it possible for immigrants to apply for a driver’s license even if they entered the country illegally.

Mr. Wolf also said the act prevents DHS from accessing New York DMV records in order to determine whether an applicant for one of these trusted-traveler programs meets the eligibility requirements.

As a result, around 175,000 New York residents will not be able to re-enroll in the four programs, which are Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST. The FAST program is specific to commercial truck drivers. There are around 30,000 drivers enrolled in the FAST program.

In a statement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also said the Trump administration is going after New Yorkers with the policy.

“Time and time again President Trump and his Washington enablers have gone out of their way to hurt New York and other blue states whenever they can as punishment for refusing to fall in line with their dangerous and divisive agenda,” he said.

Despite 13 other states and the District of Columbia already passing laws similar to the one that New York passed allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses, the Trump administration is singling out New York and its residents, the governor said.

In a conference call to reporters on Thursday, DHS Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said four other states have similar trusted-traveler programs, including Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota and Washington. And Washington, he said, is proposing a law similar to New York’s Green Light Law.

“They should know,” he said, “that their citizens are going to lose the convenience of entering these trusted-traveler programs just as New York’s did.”

The most immediate impact on New York residents will be the roughly 50,000 who are conditionally approved to be in one of the programs but haven’t completed an officer interview for enrollment. Plus, another 30,000 residents are pending a vetting and risk assessment process.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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