NEW YORK - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that it would no longer let New York residents enroll in its "trusted traveler" programs because of a new state law that blocked federal immigration officials from accessing motor vehicle records.
This means that New Yorkers will not be able to use the TSA Precheck, Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS, and FAST programs. DHS has closed the programs to new enrollments and will not be renewing New Yorkers' memberships after they expire.
In a three-page letter, DHS said the legislation, dubbed the "Green Light" law, prevents federal agencies from protecting residents from "menacing threats to national security and public safety."
The law, which went into effect in December, allowed people without legal permission to be in the United States to apply for driver's licenses. It also included a provision prohibiting state DMV officials from providing any of its data to entities that enforce immigration law unless a judge orders them to do so.
The law blocks U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which patrols the U.S.-Canada border in New York and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from obtaining the vehicle's owners' information.
Chad Wolf, acting head of the Homeland Security Department, called New York's new law "disappointing" during a Fox News interview late Wednesday night. He said the suspension of the programs, used by travelers to quickly move through customs and security at airports, was effective immediately.
"They (New York residents) 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," he said.
Cuomo, a Democrat, approved the Green Light law last summer, allowing individuals to use foreign-issued documents to prove their age and identity so they can apply for driving privileges. Lawmakers and Cuomo became worried that ICE and CBP would be able to easily obtain information about people seeking a license, and possibly making it easier for them to be deported.
On Thursday, Cuomo was a guest on WAMC Northeast Public Radio. He told host Alan Chartock that the move by DHS is a "political stunt."
"They're just making a political point, a political stunt and the reason it's ludicrous is to sign up for the Trusted Traveler Program, TTP, you have to do an in-person interview. It has nothing to do with a state database," Cuomo said during the radio interview. "You have to sit before a federal official who looks at you and says, 'Let me see your passport, let me see your date of birth, let me see your Social Security Card.' If you are an undocumented person, Alan, you're not going to go for an in-person interview in front of a federal official."
The sweeping move came a day after President Donald Trump slammed New York, a sanctuary city, in his State of the Union address. Sanctuary cities are localities that provide added protection to immigrants and refuse to cooperate with federal officials and federal law enforcement which has only escalated since Trump took office.
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