The Trump administration is suspending enrollments by New York residents in programs travelers use to quickly move through airport security and customs, citing new limits on federal access to state driver’s license data aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told Fox News on Wednesday night that his department will no longer allow New York residents to sign up or renew enrollments in Trusted Traveler programs, which include Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST, effective immediately.
The TSA’s PreCheck program was not among those affected by the suspension, according to a DHS official who asked not to be named to discuss details of the program.
New York residents who are currently enrolled in the Global Entry program can continue using their passes until they expire, the official said.
The action was taken a day after President Donald Trump condemned so-called “sanctuary cities” as a Democratic scourge in his State of the Union Address. He highlighted the arrest of an undocumented migrant in the recent rape and murder of an elderly woman in New York City.
Wolf, in a letter to New York officials cited by Fox News, said the state’s new Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act — more commonly known as the “Green Light Law” — compromised the Customs and Border Patrol agency’s ability “to confirm whether an individual applying for TTP membership meets program eligibility requirements.”
“They use that DMV data to make sure that those individuals are low risk and meet the eligibility requirements,” Wolf told Fox.
According to the website of the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, the law, which went into effect in December, allows “all New Yorkers age 16 and older to apply for a standard, not for federal purpose, non-commercial driver license or learner permit regardless of their citizenship or lawful status in the United States.”
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said late Wednesday night that the Homeland Security action was “obviously political retaliation by the federal government and we’re going to review our legal options.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, and Trump have clashed over immigration and other issues.
The Global Entry program provides people arriving in the U.S. with expedited passage through customs for five years following a brief background check and interview with DHS personnel. But it has an added advantage by being linked to the department’s “Pre-Check” program, allowing most Global Entry members expedited passage through security on domestic flights as well.