Travelers from New York State Booted from Global Entry Program. 15 More States to Follow?

Passport Image by cytis from Pixabay

If you are just a domestic traveler, staying within the US and never have to cross an international border, you have no worries about what just happened to international travelers with New York City credentials, or do you?

Last week the Department of Homeland Security suspended all New York state residents from enrolling in memberships for trusted traveler programs like Global Entry.

“Roughly 175,000 New Yorkers will be kicked out of trusted traveler programs and won’t be able to renew,” Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of the DHS deputy secretary, said on a conference call with reporters last week. State residents who have an active Global Entry membership will still be able to use it until it expires. For now, TSA PreCheck—which comes with Global Entry and gives members access to shorter airport security lines—is not part of the suspension, but that doesn’t mean DHS won’t revoke it down the line, according to Cuccinelli. – Conde Nast Traveler

Why is New York State getting picked on? Why are these federal government suspensions being handed down?  The suspension happened shortly after the state enacted new legislation that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for and receive a New York State driver’s license. Dubbed the “Green Light Law,”  it also bans certain federal agencies from searching through NY’s records via the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), won’t be able to use state  Green Light Law records to help them arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, and that is what it’s all about. But it is also that Customs and Border Protection cannot access the records and they are the department that runs Global Entry. That may be an important factor. 

DHS officials say that without access to these databases, they cannot confirm if New York applicants meet the eligibility requirements for trusted traveler programs, like Global Entry, which gives members access to an expedited screening line at airport immigration and customs. The officials cite information such as vehicle registrations, the ability to match driver’s licenses to other forms of identification, and criminal records, which according to DHS are kept up to date in DMV databases, as critical to approving Global Entry memberships. – Conde Nast Traveler

But it’s just New Your State, Right?  This is not coming to your state, is it? New York State seems to be the first on the Global Entry chopping block, but there is a total of 15 states that currently allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license, add in Washington DC to that count, too. 

At least 15 states and the District of Columbia allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

Image from ncsl.org

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington— all issue a license if an applicant provides certain documentation, such as a foreign birth certificate, foreign passport, or consular card and evidence of current residency in the state.  – NCSL.org

 

But not all of these states have restrictions on sharing DMV information with ICE, DHS, and other federal agencies.

  • New Jersey has a similar law on the books but will not most likely receive the same Global Entry axe that NY did, until January 2021 when the “you need a court order to get the DMV records” law takes effect.
  • Virginia will be in the same 1/2021 chopping if its recently proposed and similar bill passes.
  • California, has similar limitations added this January which built upon its 2015 license law that’s similar to the Green Light of NY.
  • Washington state has allowed individuals without a Social Security number to obtain licenses since 1993 and updated its stipulations in 2018 to mandated that a court order would be needed for federal agencies to do certain searches using DMV records.
  • Kansas and Massachusetts, your laws are stuck in subcommittees, but may be coming soon.

 

So who will be affected now and in the future? We shall have to wait and see who is next after New Your State residents.  What it boils down to is if a federal agency cannot do its job and research the history of trusted traveler program applicants, which will require access to state records,  it’s more than likely Global Entry will not be a viable option for those travelers.  But if states decide to share some, but not all information, like criminal history, then there may be no suspensions of trusted traveler programs like Global Entry.

What should the states do?  We’re not sure it is the correct step, but on Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called a press conference to announce a lawsuit against the Trump administration.  He called the the DHS decision “abuse of power” and “extortion”. 

What do you think Instincters?

  • Do you think this is the Federal Government overstepping its boundaries and looking to gain access to records to assist in the removal of illegal individuals?
  • Do you think it is the Federal Government trying to keep the integrity of the Global Entry program and the safety of travelers?
  • Do you think there can be some balance between protecting illegal immigrants with licenses and protecting the integrity of the trusted traveler programs?
  • Do you think this is what New York State Attorney General Letitia James called “political retribution, plain and simple, and while the president may want to punish New York for standing up to his xenophobic policies, we will not back down.” – Bloomberg News.
  • Do you think this will trickle down to interstate travel and the TSA Pre-Check program?

 


Sources:    Conde Nast Traveler  ,  NCSL.org 

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