DHS cuts off New Yorkers from ‘trusted traveler’ programs

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seal is seen during a news conference with acting...
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seal is seen during a news conference with acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan in Washington, Friday, June 28, 2019.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Updated: Feb. 6, 2020 at 1:48 PM EST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - 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. Those programs include Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS, and FAST (Free and Secure Trade).

Acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli says tens of thousands of New Yorkers will be inconvenienced by the action.

The state law went into effect in December and allowed people without legal permission to be in the United States to apply for driver’s licenses.

Chad Wolf, acting head of the Homeland Security Department, called New York’s new law "disappointing" during a Fox News interview late Wednesday night.

A senior adviser to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, said the move by DHS was politically motivated.

During an interview with a radio station, Cuomo said, “This is unbounded arrogance, disrespect of the rule of law, hyper-political government, and this is another form of extortion.”

The “Green Light Law”, which took effect in December 2019, allows issuance of a driver’s license to illegal immigrants.

New York is the only state to be impacted by DHS’s decision thus far.

The news prompted federal and state lawmakers who represent the north country to criticize the Green Light Law.

Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik issued this statement:

“After repeatedly ignoring law enforcement experts at the federal and local level, Governor Cuomo’s prioritization of illegal immigrants over law abiding New Yorkers is continuing to have damaging effects. The Governor’s reckless Green Light Law not only has hampered efforts to enforce federal immigration laws, it is continuing to have harmful implications for our state. In December of last year, I warned Governor Cuomo that this irresponsible policy would inhibit our CBP officers at the Northern Border from doing their jobs. Qualified, legal citizens should not be penalized by the Governor’s unconscionable actions, which not only hinder our border patrol, law enforcement, and other agencies from being able to effectively do their job, but now also prevent our residents from receiving access to important travel programs.”

“This announcement from DHS is just the latest example of how Governor Cuomo and the State Senate Democratic Majority’s Green Light Law and criminal-coddling policies continue to compromise public safety and hurt New York State,” said State Senator Daphne Jordan. “In leading the fight against the Green Light Law in the State Senate, I warned last year of the untold consequences of this bad law and its negative impact on public safety. It is sad and shameful that Governor Cuomo and Senate Democrats put politics and illegal immigrants ahead of sound public policy and law-abiding New Yorkers. I am truly thankful for Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s continued, powerful advocacy and national leadership in opposing the Green Light Law and standing strong for homeland security and the rule of law.”

Republican state Assemblyman Mark Walczyk issued this statement:

“When the ‘Green Light Law’ was debated on the Assembly floor last year, I raised serious concerns about the far-reaching impact this policy could have. It’s hamstringing law enforcement and Border Agents from effectively executing their jobs and now after the news that DHS has cut off New Yorkers from enrolling in trusted traveler programs, this reinforces the fact that this law is just plain wrong, period. New Yorkers shouldn’t have the pay the price for this misguided policy that puts the rights of undocumented immigrants before the rights of legal, law abiding citizens. I’m proud to stand alongside Congresswoman Stefanik on this issue.”

Republican state Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush had this to say:

“Our governor needs to start putting the residents of New York state first. I’m tired of hearing time and time again that illegal immigrants are receiving priority over our own citizens. It’s outrageous that the Green Light Law will now be punishing our legal residents.”

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