ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – Southern Tier Congressman Tom Reed said he is not surprised that the Department of Homeland Security has blocked New Yorkers access to the Global Entry program and some other Trusted Traveler Programs.
The programs allow faster entry into the United States for approved travelers. Acceptance into the programs requires a background check and in-person interview.
DHS representatives made the decision because of a specific provision in New York’s Green Light Law, which allows undocumented people to apply for a driver’s license.
The law does not allow federal immigration officials access to DMV records without a court order.
Reed recently warned that DHS might stop recognizing any New York driver’s license as valid ID for travel. A DHS spokesperson emphasized that this decision does not affect New York driver’s licenses.
Reed said the decision is the result of Democratic control in Albany. He has opposed the Green Light Law, saying it’s extreme and should be repealed.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has defended the law and criticized this decision. “This is unbounded arrogance, disrespect of the rule of law, hyper-political government, and this is another form of extortion,” Cuomo said on WAMC, a public radio station in Albany.
Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli said New Yorkers already enrolled in the Global Entry program can continue to use it, but any New York residents with Global Entry will not be able to renew when their membership expires. Anyone who has applied and is awaiting enrollment will be denied.
A DHS press release stated that without access to New York’s DMV records, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol can’t properly conduct security checks.
Cuccinelli said law enforcement needs access to up-to-date DMV records to know if someone has a fugitive warrant. He also said access to the records is also necessary for some criminal investigations.
The decision also will slow the export of some New York registered vehicles.
Cuccinelli said the freeze will also affect approximately 30,000 commercial truckers who are enrolled in the FAST program. The program allows truckers to easily cross the Mexico and Canada borders.
Cuccinelli estimated that the decision will effect up to 200,000 New Yorkers who currently in the Global Access program.