WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security temporarily barred New Yorkers on Wednesday from enrolling in Global Entry and similar programs that allow travelers to speed through borders and airport lines, escalating a conflict between the Trump administration and the state over a law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, said in a letter to the New York State government that residents would no longer be able to apply for such programs because of the so-called Green Light Law. That measure prevents agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which arrests and deports undocumented immigrants, as well as Customs and Border Protection from gaining access to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles databases without a court order.
Mr. Wolf said that access was needed to thoroughly vet applicants for the programs.
“Although D.H.S. would prefer to continue our longstanding cooperative relationship with New York on a variety of these critical homeland security initiatives,” he wrote in the letter, “this act and the corresponding lack of security cooperation from the New York D.M.V. requires D.H.S. to take immediate action to ensure D.H.S.’s efforts to protect the homeland are not compromised.”
The Trump administration has long taken aim at the state and, more specifically, New York City for “sanctuary city” policies that limit cooperation with ICE. But Mr. Wolf’s decision to suspend enrollment for the programs turned what had most recently been a public relations campaign against local politicians into a punitive policy affecting possibly millions of New Yorkers.
“This is obviously political retaliation by the federal government, and we’re going to review our legal options,” Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said late Wednesday night.
New Yorkers will not be able to enroll in “Trusted Traveler Programs,” which allow people to cut through long lines at airports if they pass a pre-clearance with the Department of Homeland Security. Participants are granted expedited processing after international travel through the Global Entry program; from Canada through the NEXUS program; and from Canada and Mexico through the SENTRI program.