Trusted Traveler Programs suspended in New York state
Residents of the state of New York can no longer register for Trusted Traveler Programs, including Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI. Those who already have a membership can continue to use it, while new sign-ups and renewals are no longer possible. As of now, TSA Pre-Check enrollment and renewals aren’t impacted by this change.
This was revealed last night by the acting secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program. As of the time of the announcement, Customs and Border Protection agents in New York hadn’t yet been informed of this policy change.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo has already said that they are reviewing legal options for getting this overturned.
Why has enrollment been suspended?
The reason this is happening is because of the new “Green Light Laws” in New York, which went into effect in December 2019. This allows undocumented immigrants to apply for New York driver’s license while protecting their information from enforcement agencies.
As Wolf explained, New York state residents are no longer able to enroll or re-enroll “because we no longer have access to make sure that they meet those program requirements, so we need to do our job.”
That’s because this new law prevents the DHS from accessing New York DMV records, in order to determine if an applicant meets program eligibility requirements. It’s worth noting that the licenses issued under these “Green Light Laws” are explicitly not for federal purposes.
This decision comes after President Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, where he criticized these kinds of laws:
“Tragically, there are many cities in America where radical politicians have chosen to provide sanctuary for these criminal, illegal aliens. In sanctuary cities local officials order police to release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public, instead of handing them over to ICE to be safely removed.”
Do these sanctuary policies actually impact how the DHS vets people for Trusted Traveler Programs? According to former ICE Director, John Sandweg, this should have no impact:
“This is just irrational in the sense that sanctuary policies in no way shape or form affect DHS’ ability to vet people for global entry and other trusted traveler programs. It’s ridiculous, and it’s politicizing a program that’s not about politics. It’s trying to match two totally unrelated things. It’s just ridiculous. It’s the kind of thing that’s going to, frankly, politicize the department in a way that’s going to undermine its mission moving forward.”
What are the ID requirements of Global Entry?
In order to sign up for Global Entry you need to bring a valid passport and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card to the interview.
It’s one thing if the federal government wants to claim that a New York state driver’s license is no longer an acceptable form of ID, but there are also non-driver ID cards, which best I can tell, are only open to people with lawful status in the US.
It seems like it could be easy enough for people to provide two forms of ID that are recognized by the federal government.
But there’s one area where they technically have a point. For example, if you’ve had a DUI you’re unlikely to get approved for Global Entry. With New York state preventing federal agencies from accessing DMV records, the relevant authorities have no way of verifying whether someone is being truthful when they state they haven’t had a DUI.
For the time being, New York state residents can’t enroll in or renew their Global Entry or other Trusted Traveler Program memberships. The logic is that New York state is issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and is preventing federal agencies from accessing DMV records.
It seems like people should still be able to produce identification that the federal government finds accessible, though the blocking of DMV records does perhaps prevent them from accessing some details they often check when approving people for Trusted Traveler Programs.
I’m curious to see how long this lasts.