The leadership of the House Committee on Homeland Security is
calling for the Trump administration to reverse its ban on Global Entry
enrollment by New York residents.
In a letter to acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary
Chad Wolf, committee leaders wrote that the policy appears to be an improper
effort to punish New Yorkers because of a dispute between the state of New York
and the Trump administration over immigration policy.
“Your justification for this policy shift appears to be no
more than pretext,” says the letter, which was signed by committee chairman
Bennie Thompson (D-Miss), House subcommittee on border protection chairwoman
Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and three other New York House Democrats. “You have
claimed that DHS is revoking New York residents’ eligibility for programs
because the department can no longer access certain state Department of Motor
Vehicle records. Yet a driver’s license is not even required to participate in
these programs. Indeed, citizens of a dozen foreign countries -- who presumably
don’t possess driver’s licenses -- can continue to enroll.”
In addition to Global Entry, the new enrollment and
re-enrollment ban applies to trusted-traveler programs Nexus, Sentri and Fast.
Global Entry provides expedited re-entry access to U.S. travelers returning
from abroad via air and sea. Nexus provides expedited crossings between the
U.S. and Canada and Mexico, and Sentri provides expedited crossings
specifically between the U.S. and Mexico. Fast is an expedited entry and exit
program for commercial truck drivers.
The DHS issued the directive last Wednesday in response to
the Green Light Law implemented by New York in December, which allows
individuals without legal immigration status to apply for a driver’s license.
As part of that law, New York blocked U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from accessing Department of
Motor Vehicles data.
The move was necessary, said Wolf, because without access to
New York records systems, DHS personnel aren’t able to conduct proper risk
assessments on trusted-traveler applicants, which include accessing applicants’
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has dismissed that assertion,
labeling the new policy an attempt at political extortion. New York plans to
fight the directive in court.
In their letter, the five House democrats argued that
blocking New York residents from Global Entry and other trusted-traveler
programs would actually harm U.S. security. The reason, they said, is that when
individuals enroll in trusted-traveler programs the DHS gains extensive access
to their information.
“Knowing more -- rather than less -- about a traveler would
seem to enhance U.S. security,” they wrote.
The committee members requested that by Feb. 20, the DHS
turn over documents justifying the enrollment ban and showing the impact it
will have on security and the economy. They also asked for all DHS and White
House communications about the decision.
Along with American citizens, citizens and nationals of
Canada, Argentina, India, Colombia, the U.K., Germany, Panama, Singapore, South
Korea, Switzerland, Mexico and Taiwan are eligible to enroll in either Global
Entry or Nexus.