The New York Attorney General's Office has asked a federal court to overturn the Trump administration's ban on enrollment and re-enrollment by state residents in Global Entry and three other trusted-traveler programs.
The lawsuit, filed Monday against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), alleges that the trusted-traveler ban illegally targets New York residents in an effort to coerce the state into abandoning its Green Light Law, which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's license and bars the release of applicants' personal information to federal immigration authorities without a court order or warrant.
New York further alleges that the ban undermines public safety and harms the New York economy while violating the 10th Amendment's protection of states' rights and the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process.
The state is asking the court to declare the ban unconstitutional and to forbid the DHS and CBP from enforcing it.
"By reducing participation in the trusted-traveler programs, defendants' decision to implement the Trusted Traveler Ban for New York residents will undermine CBP officers' ability to focus their efforts on higher-risk travelers and will burden already strained security systems. In so doing, defendants' policy will make all travelers less safe," the suit alleges.
New York filed the suit in in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a separate federal case Monday, also in the Southern District of New York, challenging the ban.
The lawsuits came just five days after acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf issued the directive blocking enrollment and re-enrollment by New York residents in Global Entry as well as the 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.
In a letter to the state of New York, and in a subsequent tweet, Wolf said that the ban is necessary because without access to New York DMV records, DHS personnel aren't able to conduct proper risk assessments on trusted-traveler applicants, which include accessing applicants' criminal histories.
In the lawsuit, the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James disputes that assertion.
"Any criminal history information contained in New York DMV records is duplicated in records disseminated to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, which in turn shares such information with the FBI," the suit says.
The trusted-traveler enrollment ban has also stirred conflict in Congress. Last Friday, the Democratic leadership of the House Committee on Homeland Security called for the Trump administration to reverse the policy.
The committee members requested that the DHS turn over documents by Feb. 20 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.