July 23, 2020

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

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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