U.S. Restores Trusted Traveler Access for NY Residents After Fight Over Sanctuary Laws

The Trump administration official said in February that in response to the state's sanctuary and Green Light laws, New York residents could not "enroll or re-enroll” in the Trusted Traveler Programs

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will lift its ban on New York residents participating in "trusted traveler programs," it said on Thursday.

Earlier this year, New York said it would file a lawsuit challenging the Department of Homeland Security's decision to block New Yorkers from participating in "trusted traveler programs" in retribution for a new state law that could allegedly hinder federal immigration enforcement.

"I am glad that this issue has finally been resolved for all New Yorkers," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

In December, a new state law took effect allowing New York residents to apply for driver's licenses without having to prove they are in the U.S. legally. Part of that law also sought to protect immigrants in the country illegally who applied for the new licenses by prohibiting the state's Department of Motor Vehicles from giving records to federal immigration agents.

The Department of Homeland Security ultimately retaliated, saying it would no longer allow New Yorkers to enroll, or renew their membership in, certain federal programs that make it easier for people traveling internationally to get through border security, including Global Entry.

The ouster was thought to affect at least 175,000 New Yorkers then enrolled in the programs, who would be kicked out as their permits expired.

Several other states have similar policies of allowing immigrants in the country illegally to get driver's licenses, but New York was the only state that banned the sharing of motor vehicle records with immigration agents, Department of Homeland Security officials said at the time.

DHS said Thursday that recent modifications to New York law that allowed for the sharing of DMV records for trusted traveler programs meant the state could be allowed to participate again.

“We appreciate the information sharing to CBP for the trusted travel program, which enables DHS to move forward and begin once again processing New York residents under the Trusted Travel Program.  Nonetheless, local New York law continues to maintain provisions that undermine the security of the American people and purport to criminalize information sharing between law enforcement entities,” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.

AP / NBC New York
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