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Cuomo Calls Federal Government's Denial of NYer's Access to Global Entry a "Political Stunt"


State officials are reacting to the news that the federal Department of Homeland Security is ending an expedited travel pass known as Global Entry for New Yorkers crossing into Canada or Mexico or arriving home to an airport from a foreign country.

Global Entry, part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service, allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to get expedited clearance through automatic kiosks at select airports upon arrival into the United States. 

Now, the Department of Homeland Security says New Yorkers will no longer be eligible for this program, because of a recent law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Under that law, Customs and Border Protection as well as the   Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, are prevented from access to New York’s DMV data base.

Homeland Security says because the federal government no longer has access to that data base, it can’t properly vet New Yorkers who apply for global entry.

The ban also prevents New Yorkers from applying for the NEXUS program, which allows expedited border crossings between the US and Canada and Mexico.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking on Albany Public Radio station WAMC, calls it a “political stunt”. And he says the law that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s license, known as the Green Light law, is not changing.

I don’t want unlicensed people on our roads, it’s a public safety issue,” Cuomo said.  "You can worry about your high brow federal immigration laws.  Let me keep people safe on our roads in the meantime."


The leader of the state’s Republican Party, Nick Langworthy, says the decision will be a hardship for people around the state, and especially in Western New York, where Langworthy lives.  But he says it’s the fault of Cuomo and Democrats in state government who approved the Green Light law.

This has consequences,” said Langworthy, who urged  New Yorkers to call the governor to complain.

They need to go back to state government and look the governor in the eye and say ‘why can’t I do what people ca do in other states’,” Langworthy said.

Langworthy stopped short, though of saying that Homeland Security was right to deny New Yorkers the expedited travel passes. But he says he  believes the agency if it says New York’s law makes the nation’s borders less safe. 


New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a statement harshly rebuking the move by DHS.  

Despite President Trump’s attempt to punish New Yorkers for passing its own laws and standing up to his xenophobic policies, New York will not back down. Already, 13 additional states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws to the one the Trump Administration cites in its letter, so we will resist efforts that target New Yorkers and cut off our access to Global Entry or any other Trusted Traveler Program. As the state’s attorney and chief law enforcement officer, I will continue to vigorously defend New York laws and our state’s residents against the president’s vindictive actions. New Yorkers will not be targeted or bullied by an authoritarian thug.”

The release from James includes some background on the Green Light bill:

This law is legal and enforceable, and two separate federal courts have already dismissed meritless lawsuits against the law. The Green Light law aims to make New York roads safer, provide a boost to the state’s economy, and allows immigrants to come out of the shadows.


Despite 13 other states and the District of Columbia already passing similar laws that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses, the Trump Administration yesterday singled out and targeted New York State and its residents by informing the New York State DMV that New York residents could no longer enroll or reenroll in a number of Trusted Traveler Programs. While the Office of the Attorney General is still reviewing this matter, it appears that New York residents who are already active Trusted Traveler Program participants will not have Global Entry participation or participation in any of the other programs revoked. TSA Pre? does not seem to be affected at this time. Additionally, the DHS has stated that the exportation of used vehicles titled and registered in New York State could be delayed and could be costlier under their new policy.


Rep. Katko is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, and previously criticized the impact of New York's "Green Light Law."  In a release, he says he confirmed with CBP during a committee hearing that New York is the only state that does not grant an exception for CBP to access DMV records for trusted traveler programs verifications.  He says such information is to combat crimes ranging from drug smuggling and child exploitation to human and weapons trafficking.  

"This overreaching policy, and sanctuary policies as a whole not only impact New York State, but they have significant federal implications and, as we have seen with this shift in DHS policy, can harm state and federal cooperation.  Restricting access to state DMV databases prevents federal agencies from carrying out their national security missions and opens up our nation and our communities to immeasurable threats.  In addition to the security gaps this policy presents, it is now inconveniencing New York State travelers and businesses.  It is critical to the interests of New York residents and our national security, that the negative ramifications of this policy be addressed.”

Katko urged Cuomo to take swift action to remedy what he calls a far-reaching and disastrous policy, and offered to facilitate a discussion between New York State and DHS through his role on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at