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Trump freezes Global Entry program that allowed air travelers to speed through security in New York over immigration dispute

People wait on the security screening line at LaGuardia Airport on Jan. 25, 2019. The Department of Homeland Security temporarily barred New Yorkers on Feb. 6, 2020, from enrolling in Global Entry and similar programs that allow travelers to speed through borders and airport lines
People wait on the security screening line at LaGuardia Airport on Jan. 25, 2019. The Department of Homeland Security temporarily barred New Yorkers on Feb. 6, 2020, from enrolling in Global Entry and similar programs that allow travelers to speed through borders and airport lines (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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 unauthorized 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 unauthorized immigrants, as well as Customs and Border Protection from gaining access to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles databases without a court order.

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Wolf said that access was needed to thoroughly vet applicants for the programs.

“Although DHS would prefer to continue our long-standing 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 DMV requires DHS to take immediate action to ensure DHS’ efforts to protect the homeland are not compromised.”

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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 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.

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.

The Green Light law was passed last year by New York’s Democratic Legislature and was signed by Cuomo, a third-term Democrat and frequent antagonist of President Donald Trump.

c.2020 The New York Times Company

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