In December New York State law began allowing undocumented immigrants to get drivers licenses and stopped sharing applicant information with immigration enforcement agencies.
Wednesday evening the Trump administration provided a copy of a letter sent to New York State officials to Fox News, and the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security went on the Tucker Carlson program announcing that because New York passed this law, “New York residents are no longer eligible to enroll in these Trusted Traveler Programs” including Global Entry.
Currently-enrolled New Yorkers will be able to continue to use Global Entry, but not to renew it. Global Entry is how many travelers obtain TSA PreCheck.
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Acting Secretary Wolf remarked that access to New York’s DMV database is relied upon heavily in Immigration and Customs Enforcement in making arrests and drug seizures. and Trusted Traveler Programs use DMV data as part of their identity verification process. New Yorkers will still, apparently, be allowed to separately sign up for PreCheck but will not be able to use PreCheck if obtaining access via Global Entry, SENTRI, or NEXUS.
There are 5 reasons I’m highly concerned and skeptical of this new policy.
- Trusted Traveler programs have been able to continue to process New York residents successfully since New York’s new drivers license law went into effect, undermining the suggestion that it’s not possible for these programs to verify traveler identities.
- Continuing to allow New York residents to sign up for PreCheck on its own further suggests that the DMV law doesn’t preclude identity verification by Trusted Traveler programs.
- The fact that the new policy was announced by providing memos and an exclusive interview to Tucker Carlson suggests it’s political, designed to send a message, and aimed at the President’s base in an election year (‘owning the libs’).
- The Trump administration announced the policy on Fox News before even informing Customs and Border Protection of the change.
- It’s aimed squarely at citizens residing in New York in retribution for laws passed by its elected officials. The President expects to lose his home state of New York in the fall election regardless, so the move appears to come at low political cost.
For those who would argue that making American citizens take off their shoes in airports is somehow justified by immigration policy concerns, would this even be an issue if the President had succeeded in building a wall and making Mexico pay for it?