New York State Residents Barred from Trusted Traveler Programs

The Trump Administration has banned residents of the State of New York from applying for or renewing enrollment in any trusted traveler program, such as Global Entry. These programs are designed to allow pre-approved and low-risk travelers expedited clearance and entry into the United States.

Controversy and Legal Action

In a letter to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) explained that federal agencies use driver’s license records to determine an individual’s eligibility for trusted traveler programs. According to the DHS, New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) data has proven essential in major criminal investigations involving human trafficking, gang activities, and drug smuggling. However, New York recently enacted the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, better known as the Green Light Law, which restricts federal agency access to these records and allows undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo claims the state’s policies are in the interest of public safety, as undocumented immigrants will drive regardless of authorization. In eliminating valid immigration status as a driver’s license requirement, the Green Light Law has increased the number of insured drivers on New York’s roads.

New York Sues Federal Government

On February 10, 2020, the State of New York filed a lawsuit against the DHS and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), arguing that the exclusion is unconstitutional and retaliatory. The Plaintiffs also claim the DHS did not comply with the legal requirements imposed by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), as the agency did not publish notice of its proposed rulemaking for public comment.


No matter the outcome, New York State’s lawsuit is representative of the difficulty of resisting the current administration’s strict immigration policies, even with valid reason. The verdict will determine whether the administration’s goals supersede privacy and safety concerns, as well as state’s rights.


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