New York officials announced on Monday that they have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s new policy of barring New Yorkers from getting through customs lines at airports quickly by enrolling or re-enrolling into the Global Entry and Trusted Travelers Programs.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on February 6 that it would suspend New Yorkers from applying for Global Entry and other Trusted Travelers Programs like FAST, SENTRI and NEXUS. In response, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the administration on Monday.
“New Yorkers will not be held hostage by an Administration intent on restraining the sovereign rights of states, while it simultaneously enacts discriminatory policies across the country,” said James in a statement. “Today, we are filing a lawsuit to stop the president and his Administration from punishing New York for passing its own laws. The Trump Administration’s new policy not only negatively impacts travelers, workers, commerce, and our economy, but it jeopardizes public safety. No one should ever use our nation’s security as a political weapon, let alone the commander-in-chief.”
Trump Administration’s Reasoning for The Ban
Acting Homeland Security chief Chad Wolf said in a statement that the suspension is due to the state’s “Green Light Laws,” which were passed back in June. The law allows New Yorkers to apply for learner’s permits or non-commercial driver’s licenses no matter their citizenship or legal status in the U.S. Wolf claims the laws stop the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) from providing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs Border Protection (CBP) from obtaining information through its database.
“New York’s ‘Green Light Law’ is ill-conceived and the Department is forced to take this action to ensure the integrity of our Trusted Traveler Programs. It’s very clear: this irresponsible action has consequences,” Wolf said in a statement. “An aspect of the law, which I’m most concerned about, is that it prohibits the DMV from providing ICE and CBP with important data used in law enforcement, trade, travel, and homeland security. ICE uses the information as they investigate and build cases against terrorists, and criminals who commit child sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and financial crimes. Unfortunately, because of this law, they can no longer do that.”
The lawsuit states that the ban could negatively impact the state’s economy, as wait times for border crossings will increase and residents who rely on programs like Global Entry and other Trusted Travelers Programs could impact those who rely on traveling across the border and in airports.
According to the suit, there are 9.6 million enrollees in the Trusted Traveler programs and more than 7 million in the Global Entry program. In New York, there are 175,000 people enrolled in the Trusted Traveler programs that are set to expire this year and an additional 80,000 New Yorkers have pending applications. The lawsuit also states that the DHS has approved 50,000 residents living in the state for the Trusted Travelers program and 30,000 additional New Yorkers are currently in the application process. Thanks to the new ban, New Yorkers in the application process will be immediately “cut off,” according to the suit.
"We will not compromise our values nor back down when the federal government continues to unfairly and illegally target New York," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "There are more than a dozen states – including red states – with similar laws, but President Trump and his enablers are once again taking their aim at New York’s economy in a way that not only inconveniences travelers, but also creates very real security issues. Make no mistake we are fighting back and will be using every tool available to us to do so.”
What They’re Saying
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) called the DHS’s suspension of the Global Entry and Trusted Travelers Program “unlawful and irrational.” In a statement, the organization said it would file its own suit “on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers shut out of the program.”
“This is a political attack meant to punish New Yorkers for passing common-sense laws that fly in the face of Trump’s war on immigrant communities,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, in a statement. “Tampering with New Yorkers’ access to travel is reckless but it’s not surprising. It’s exactly what we should expect from a president who will do anything to punish people who stand in the way of his cruel agenda.”
About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.