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