On February 6, 2020, the Trump Administration announced that New York residents will no longer be eligible to apply for or renew their enrollment in certain Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) Trusted Traveler Program, including Global Entry which facilitates expedited clearance in customs for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. New York residents with existing memberships in the CBP Trusted Traveler Program may continue to travel with Global Entry until they are required to reenroll.
The DHS’ suspension on new enrollment and reenrollment in the program is in response to New York State’s recent implementation of the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act (“Green Light Law”), that permits all New York residents age 16 and older to apply for a standard, not for federal purpose, non-commercial driver license or learner permit regardless of their citizenship or lawful status in the United States. The main point of contention for the Trump Administration is the provision in the Green Light Law that bars the New York Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing data and records with the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (“ICE”) without orders from a judge. The DHS’ rationale for imposing the suspension on enrollment and reenrollment in the CBP Trusted Traveler Program for New York is that the statewide Green Light Law “will impede ICE's objective of protecting the people of New York from menacing threats to national security and public safety.”
It is unknown at this time how long the DHS suspension will remain in place. In press remarks, the Acting Director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) stated that he will consider expanding the suspension of the CBP Trusted Traveler Program to other States that adopt similar “sanctuary” laws. Notably, Washington State, California and Oregon have passed statewide sanctuary laws akin to New York’s Green Light Law which limit local and state agencies’ cooperation with federal authorities to enforce immigration law. In response to what some may call a blatant use of extortion and a punitive act by the Trump Administration, New York Governor Andre Cuomo announced on February 6, 2020 that State of New York will sue the US government on the basis that the DHS has violated New York's sovereign immunity and has not provided its residents with equal protection, and is acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner that denies the rights and privileges of all New Yorkers.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates when information becomes available.