New York State to Sue Trump Administration over Traveler Program Ban
Two days after the Trump Administration banned New York residents from participating in Trusted Traveler Programs (TTPs), New York State’s Attorney General Letitia James announced that the state will respond with legal action. Calling the Trump Administration’s action “political retribution, plain and simple” James announced that the state will sue the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for unfair targeting of New York residents.
The Trump Administration banned New York residents from participating in TTPs in retaliation for New York passing a Green Light Law, which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a state driver’s license. In enacting the law, the New York legislators cited the public safety interest in ensuring that drivers on the road are licensed. The Green Light Law has been upheld as lawful by two federal courts. The national security nexus between New York’s Green Light Law and TPPs is questionable. U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducts extensive and independent security screening of TPP applicants, including background checks, and applicants must be fingerprinted and provide proof of citizenship. A state driver’s license conveys no right to participate in a TTP, and indeed, a driver’s license is not a requirement for enrollment in a TTP. Notably, thirteen other states and the District of Columbia have passed laws similar to New York’s, and residents of those states have not been banned from TTP participation.
Hundreds of thousands of New York residents stand to lose their membership in TTPs including Global Entry, SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection), NEXUS, and FAST (Free and Secure Trade). The ban is likely to lead to significant delays at ports of entry into the U.S., including land crossings, and may have the harmful consequence of compromising security as Customs and Border Patrol agents will now have to dedicate resources to conduct inspections of individuals previously vetted and found to pose no nationality security threat.
Gibney will continue to monitor this matter and provide updates. For additional information, please contact your designated Gibney representative.