Federal gov’t. bans New Yorkers from border crossing programs

border ban

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - New Yorkers are no longer able to sign up or re-enroll for The Department of Homeland Security’s trusted traveler programs. These are programs which allow vetted travelers to use expedited lanes to cross borders. Why?

“These are all unfortunate consequences of New York’s Green Light Law. Obviously, we would urge New York to undo that law and to restore some sanity to its own intents to help preserve public safety,” said Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

The Green Light Law which went into effect in December 2019, allows undocumented immigrants to get drivers licenses. But, the law also blocks the Department of Homeland Security from accessing DMV records. Cuccinelli says that information is necessary when vetting someone as a trusted traveler.

“It’s the barring of access by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles for our ability to see for instance, do you have a fugitive warrant? What’s your criminal record? Up to date, we can’t see those things with New York barring it,” said Cuccinelli.

The move affects travelers enrolled in the Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST programs. Travelers currently enrolled in these programs will still be able to participate in them for now, but will not be able to re-enroll. That’s expected to affect 150 to 200 thousand residents over the course of the next year.

Cuccinelli says another 50 to 80 thousand New Yorkers in line for the programs now will be denied.

Governor Cuomo called the decision pure politics and an abuse of power. He announced Friday that the state will file a lawsuit.

“We’re going to disclose this political intrusion into government, this ham-handed political tactic that once again hurts New Yorkers to make their political point,” said Governor Cuomo.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand agrees with Cuomo saying in a statement “Once again, the Trump administration is misusing the federal government for political retribution.”

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is criticizing the Green Light Law, calling it reckless and saying it has hampered efforts to enforce federal immigration laws and is continuing to have harmful implications for New York.

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