Trump administration blocks Global Entry enrollment for New Yorkers

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Trump administration blocks Global Entry enrollment for New Yorkers
Photo Credit: Arne Beruldsen/Shutterstock

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has barred New York state residents from enrolling or re-enrolling in Global Entry and other trusted-traveler programs.

The directive targets 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 state Department of Motor Vehicle workers from providing agents at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) access to its databases. 

The directive will impact an estimated 175,000 New York residents annually as their membership in those programs expires, senior DHS official Ken Cuccinelli told the media Thursday. Approximately 80,000 New York residents who are in the process of applying for Global Entry, Nexus, Sentri and Fast will be shut out. 

“President Trump has made it clear that if sanctuary cities and sanctuary states won’t keep their people safe, we’ll do our best to keep them safe,” Cuccinelli said. 

In a letter to New York Department of Motor Vehicle officials Wednesday, acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf wrote that having access to those vehicles records, including aspects of a person’s criminal history, allows the CBP to verify that applicants to trusted-travel programs meet the low-risk eligibility requirements. 

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 statement, Rich Azzopardi, senior advisor to New York governor Andrew Cuomo, said, “This is obviously political retaliation by the federal government, and we’re going to review our legal options.”

ASTA CEO Zane Kerby called the directive “nonsensical.”

“The administration could have used a scalpel here, but chose a sledgehammer instead,” Kerby said. “Penalizing every New Yorker enrolled or who plans to enroll in valuable trusted-traveler programs like Global Entry and over a dispute between the federal and state government is wrong. Now more than ever, the government should be looking for ways to facilitate travel, not hinder it.”

The U.S. Travel Association also chafed at the DHS directive. 

“Travel should not be politicized. Trusted-traveler programs enhance our national security because they provide greater certainty regarding a person’s identity, citizenship, and criminal background,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, the organization’s executive vice president for public affairs and policy. “Suspending enrollment in Global Entry and other trusted-traveler programs only undermines travel security and efficiency.”

Cuccinelli urged New York to reconsider its block on record-sharing with federal immigration agencies and said that DHS would place the same trusted-traveler program enrollment restrictions on any other state that implements such policies. He noted that Washington state is considering such a measure. 

“They should know that their citizens are going to lose the convenience of entering these trusted-traveler programs, just as New York’s did,” Cuccinelli said. 

The DHS directive does not apply to TSA PreCheck. The reason, explained Cuccinelli, is that PreCheck isn’t tied into New York’s Enhanced Driver’s Licenses like the other programs are. 

“PreCheck is not currently on the list, but that is all I would say about that,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it can’t be in the future.”

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