New York to sue Trump over Global Entry ban

Travelers using Global Entry kiosks. ((U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

New York state plans to sue the Trump administration for blocking state residents from preferred traveler programs, such as Global Entry.

New York Attorney General Letitia James made the announcement on Twitter and in a press release.

"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," James said in a statement. "We plan to take legal action and sue the Trump Administration for its unfair targeting of New York State residents. 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. We will not allow New Yorkers to be targeted or bullied by an authoritarian thug."

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it was closing new enrollments into its Trusted Traveler Programs to residents of New York and would not be renewing New Yorkers' memberships as they expired.

DHS blamed the move on the state's new so-called Green Light Law, which blocked federal immigration officials from accessing motor vehicle records. 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.

However, it isn't clear why this law alone would prevent DHS from screening Trusted Traveler Program applicants given that the agency has access to other crime databases, such as the FBI's, and that any applicants who do not have a state-issued driver's license or non-driver ID may not have any DMV records anyway.

The ban means that New Yorkers will not be able to use the Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS, and FAST programs, which are administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a component of the Department of Homeland Security. Although TSA Precheck is listed as a Trusted Traveler Program, it does not appear to be included in the new directive from DHS. 

"Nothing is more important than the safety of the United States and our citizens, and the New York Green Light law makes us less safe and shields criminals," CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said in a statement. "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. When states take negative measures that hinder our ability to protect our great country, we must respond."


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