Earlier this year the Department of Homeland Security suspended Global Entry enrollments and renewals for New York residents, and that’s now being undone.
Why Global Entry was suspended for New Yorkers
Earlier this year registration in Trusted Traveler Programs (including Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI) was suspended for New York state residents.
The reason given for this suspension involved the “Green Light Laws” that were introduced in New York, which went into effect in December 2019. This allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for New York driver’s licenses while protecting their information from enforcement agencies.
The acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, said at the time that the decision to suspend Trusted Traveler Program enrollment came “because we no longer have access to make sure that they meet those program requirements, so we need to do our job.”
The claim was that the Green Light Laws prevented the DHS from accessing New York DMV records, in order to determine if an applicant met program eligibility requirements. It’s worth noting that the licenses issued under these Green Light Laws were explicitly not for federal purposes.
New Yorkers can once again enroll in Global Entry
This week the Department of Homeland Security announced it is lifting its ban on Trusted Traveler Program enrollment for New York residents.
The DHS claims that this comes after New York amended the Green Light Laws to allow for information-sharing of New York DMV records “as necessary for an individual seeking acceptance into a trusted traveler program, or to facilitate vehicle imports and/or exports.”
The rest of the press release from the DHS is rather political, talking about how Green Light Laws “undermine the efforts of law enforcement officers, criminalizing their mission to secure the nation and the American people from threats and furthering the risk to their own lives.”
But there’s more to the story — federal lawyers have said that DHS officials made false statements in order to justify the New York Global Entry ban. Government lawyers have now acknowledged that several other states, Washington DC, and some US territories, also limited access to DMV information, and had not been subjected to similar restrictions.
This followed lawsuits filed by the New York State and New York Civil Liberties Union.
New York residents are once again eligible for enrollment in Trusted Traveler Programs. This comes after the DHS admitted that it made misleading statements that specifically singled out New York, when similar restrictions weren’t applied to other regions.
While this is a positive development, this all comes at a time when Trusted Traveler Program enrollment centers (where interviews are required) are closed through September 8, 2020, due to the pandemic. For most New Yorkers there will be limited implications to enrollment finally resuming. Fortunately there’s currently an 18-month grace period on Global Entry renewal.