New York recently enacted a State law that permits immigrants with no legal immigration status to obtain driver’s licenses. The so-called “Green Light Law” also blocks access to Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records by DHS.
In direct response to that law, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has directed that New Yorkers can no longer participate in Trusted Traveler Programs such as Global Entry. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) oversees four programs that allow frequent international travelers to pass through customs or border checkpoints more quickly. Global Entry and Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) address travelers who must go through customs when entering the U.S. NEXUS allows quicker passage between the U.S. and Canada, and the Free and Secure Trade (FAST program addresses commercial shipments crossing the U.S. border from either Canada or Mexico.
DHS has implemented the new policy banning New Yorkers from enrolling or reenrolling in these four programs because the new law makes it impossible for CBP to ensure that program participants meet all requirements. CBP previously accessed DMV records to check compliance with program requirements.
DHS estimated that the loss of access to these programs could affect more than 175,000 people in New York. Since the federal government enacted this policy, it has denied about 80,000 pending applications to the programs from New Yorkers. Another 175,000 people’s memberships in the programs will expire later this year.
In response, the State of New York immediately filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to block DHS from eliminating the participation of New Yorkers in the Trusted Traveler Programs. The State is arguing that the move by DHS is pure retaliation for its Green Light Law. They maintain that they wanted to restrict DHS access to DMV records to prevent them from using the information to track down and apprehend immigrants living in the State with no legal immigration status.
The Peek & Toland immigration lawyers are here to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in your immigration matter. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your situation.