James assails Trump’s ban on Caribbean New Yorkers from Global Entry Program

New York State Attorney General, Letitia James.
New York State Attorney General, Letitia James.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has criticized the Donald J. Trump administration’s decision to implement a new policy banning New York State residents, including Caribbean nationals, from the Global Entry Program and other Trusted Traveler Programs.

Late last week, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sent a letter to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) stating that the federal government would no longer enroll or re-enroll New York residents, including Caribbean nationals, in a number of the federal government’s Trusted Traveler Programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS, and FAST (Free and Secure Trade).

“Despite President Trump’s attempt to punish New Yorkers for passing its own laws and standing up to his xenophobic policies, New York will not back down,” said James in a statement, noting that 13 additional states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws to the one the Trump administration cites in its letter.

“So, we will resist efforts that target New Yorkers and cut off our access to Global Entry or any other Trusted Traveler Program,” James added. “As the state’s attorney and chief law enforcement officer, I will continue to vigorously defend New York laws and our state’s residents against the president’s vindictive actions. New Yorkers will not be targeted or bullied by an authoritarian thug.”

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency also said that, effective immediately, residents of the State of New York will no longer be eligible to apply for or renew membership in its Trusted Traveler Programs “due to state legislation that restricts CBP’s access to certain criminal history information maintained by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).”

In addition, CBP said the Vehicle Exports program will be affected.

“Vehicles titled in New York may be de-prioritized for export, as resource limitations require, when supporting documents cannot be authenticated through information sharing with New York DMV,” CBP said in a statement.

James noted that, last year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Green Light bill into law, which allows undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants to apply for driver licenses.

“This law is legal and enforceable, and two separate federal courts have already dismissed meritless lawsuits against the law,” James said. “The Green Light law aims to make New York roads safer, provide a boost to the state’s economy, and allows immigrants to come out of the shadows.”

Despite the fact that 13 other states and the District of Columbia have already passing similar laws that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses, James said the Trump administration “singled out and targeted New York State and its residents by informing the New York State DMV that New York residents could no longer enroll or reenroll in a number of Trusted Traveler Programs.”

Over the weekend, Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke joined her New York congressional colleague Kathleen Rice in leading a bipartisan letter to Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf questioning the Trump administration’s decision to implement a new policy banning New York State residents, including Caribbean nationals, from the Global Entry Program and other Trusted Traveler Programs.

Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, and Rice, who represents New York’s 4th Congressional District, said that Wolf also made the announcement on cable television.

“You failed to provide any notice to our congressional delegation about your decision. Rather, we learned through reporting that a letter was sent to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles alerting them of this policy change, which will immediately impact roughly 50,000 to 80,000 New York State residents with applications pending and another 150,000 to 200,000 New York State residents per year, who are trying to renew membership,” wrote Clarke and Rice said in their letter.

“This is of great concern and unacceptable to many of our constituents,” they added.

Clarke and Rice also said that New York is the only state in the country that has been singled out for exclusion from “these critical programs.

“Accordingly, our offices have received an influx of questions and concerns from constituents who have pending Global Entry applications or renewals,” they wrote. “You have not provided sufficient guidance to our offices on how to handle these cases.”

For all of these reasons, Clarke and Rice asked that Wolf provide a briefing for their offices on this issue by Thursday, Feb. 13.

CBP said the decision to ban New York State residents, including Caribbean nationals, from the Global Entry Program and other Trusted Traveler Programs, comes as the State of New York implements the “Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act,” which, it claimed, prohibits CBP from accessing information maintained by the New York DMV.

“Without access to this information, CBP cannot properly complete security checks for Trusted Traveler Program applications and renewals submitted by New York residents, greatly increasing our security risk,” the statement said.

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