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DHS Lifts Trusted Traveler Program Ban After NY Amends ‘Dangerous’ ‘Green Light Law’

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New York’s ‘Green Light Law’ was amended recently to allow federal law enforcement access to the State’s Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) records that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says is vital to protecting American national security, according to a Thursday press release. Moreover, access to the records helps DHS agencies to thwart potential terrorist and criminal activity, according to the Department.

“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 Secretary Wolf said in a statement Thursday.

“The Green Light Law ultimately undermines the efforts of law enforcement officers, criminalizing their mission to secure the nation and the American people from threats and furthering the risk to their own lives.  When jurisdictions like New York fail to cooperate with federal authorities, they operate more like refuges from criminal behavior, not sanctuary havens.”

With the change, federal law enforcement will be able to access DMV records “as necessary for an individual seeking acceptance into a trusted traveler program, or to facilitate vehicle imports and/or exports.” However, there are still more steps DHS says need to be taken in order to ensure the safety of New Yorkers and the American people as a whole.

According to the press release, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are still blocked from receiving some information from law enforcement and could face felony charges for breaking that order. DHS is consulting the Department of Justice (DOJ) “to determine appropriate legal actions to address these problems.”

In February, CBP blocked New York residents from applying for any Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP). That was because of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to enact “Green Light Laws,” meaning many criminals could go under the radar of federal law enforcement and/or seek sanctuary in New York to do so because information on such individuals would be blocked from federal law enforcement officials.

As a result, CBP took action by barring New Yorkers from applying for or renewing Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST. That all changed Thursday, however, according to DHS.

“In New York alone, last year ICE arrested 149 child predators, identified or rescued 105 victims of exploitation and human trafficking, arrested 230 gang members, and seized 6,487 pounds of illegal narcotics, including fentanyl and opioids,” Wolf wrote in a letter to top New York state officials on February 5. “In the vast majority of these cases, ICE relied on New York DMV records to fulfill its mission.”

Wolf added that the law  “compromises CBP’s ability to confirm whether an individual applying for TTP membership meets program eligibility requirements,” and will “delay[] a used vehicle owner’s ability to obtain CBP authorization for exporting their vehicle.”

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Report: Denver area migrants cost $340 million to shelter, educate

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A report by the free-market Common Sense Institute found the more than 42,000 migrants who have arrived in Denver over the last year and a half have cost the region as much as $340 million. The city of Denver, local school districts, and the region’s health-care system have spent between $216 million and $340 million combined to shelter, feed, clothe, and educate the migrants, and to provide them with emergency medical care.

National Review explains the report builds off a previous report from March that conservatively found that the migrants had cost the region at least $170 million. “Costs are never localized,” said DJ Summers, the institute’s research director. “They expand outward.”

Democratic leaders are being blamed for their welcoming posture toward immigrants generally, and their sanctuary-city policies, which curtail law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration agents. Since late December 2022, at least 42,269 migrants — or “newcomers” as Denver leaders call them — have arrived in the city, adds National Review.

The Common Sense Institute report found that the migrant crisis has also hit local emergency rooms hard with extensive expenses. Since December 2022, migrants have made more than 16,000 visits to metro emergency departments. At an estimated cost of about $3,000 per visit, that has resulted in nearly $48 million in uncompensated care.

Summers said those costs are “stressing existing health care organizations,” but they also indirectly hit residents in their pocketbooks through increased insurance prices.

Metro school districts have endured the biggest financial hit — estimated between $98 million and $222 million — according to the Common Sense Institute report. The large range in costs is due to the difficulties researchers had identifying exactly how many new foreign students are tied to the migrant crisis.

The researchers found that since December 2022, 15,725 foreign students have enrolled in local schools. Of those, 6,929 have come from the five countries most closely identified with the migrant crisis — Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

On average, it costs a little over $14,000 to educate a student for a year in a Denver-area public school, but Summers said migrant students likely cost more.

“They have transportation needs that are different, they have acculturation needs that are going to be different, language assistance needs that are going to be different,” he said. “Many of them might need to get up to speed in curriculum. They might need outside tutoring.”

Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers approved $24 million in state funding to help school districts statewide plug budget holes related to the migrant students.

Summers said the updated Common Sense Institute tally is likely still missing some costs related to the ongoing migrant crisis.

“There are definitely additional costs. We just don’t have a great way to measure them just yet,” he said, noting legal fees, crime, and unreported business and nonprofit expenses.

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