New York officials filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the Department of Homeland Security's move to block New York residents from Global Entry and other programs that allow travelers to avoid long security lines at airports and borders.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan charges that the federal government's ouster from so-called “trusted traveler” programs was intended to punish the state for enacting a law that lets unauthorized immigrants get drivers licenses and bars federal immigration agents from accessing state motor vehicle records.
“We will not allow the president of the United States to single out New York, to discriminate against New York, to target New York, and to coerce us, to coerce our state into changing its policies to comply with his preferred federal policies," Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. “Make no mistake, this is an attack, a full attack, a frontal attack on New York’s rights as a sovereign state."
Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli announced last week that New Yorkers would no longer be allowed to enroll or re-enroll in the travel programs.
Cuccinelli said it was a necessary step because New York's new law had endangered public safety by making it tougher for immigration and border agents to quickly confirm someone's identification, check for fugitive warrants or see if a person has a criminal record.
James said that information is available from other sources.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, noted that more than a dozen states have passed laws allowing people who are not legal U.S. residents to get driver's licenses. He said in a statement that President Donald Trump “and his enablers are once again taking their aim at New York's economy in a way that not only inconveniences travelers, but also creates very real security issues.”
The U.S. Department of Justice, which would defend the administration in the suit, declined to comment.
Local officials in western New York, where traffic over the U.S.-Canadian border will be slowed by the loss of trusted traveler status, urged federal officials to reverse the ban.
“Don't penalize New York businesses and don't cripple communities that are trying to make sure that they can grow and continue to grow in their local economy,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino, a Democrat.