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The Immigration Observer

DHS Suspends Trusted Travel Programs for New York Residents

February 03, 2020 | Lepore Taylor Fox

Last week New York residents learned from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that effective immediately they would be suspended from "Trusted Traveler" programs - such as the Global Entry, Nexus, Sentri, and Fast - that pre-screen travelers and enable them to quickly return from trips outside the country.  The DHS’ action comes in response to the state implementing the Driver's License Access and Privacy Act (Green Light Law), which allows individuals to use foreign-issued documents to prove their age and identity so they can apply for driving privileges, and prohibits immigration agents from accessing motor vehicle records unless a judge orders them to do so.  New York state officials dismissed the move as a political stunt, noting that the Trusted Traveler programs don't require a driver's license and that the action reflects a Trump administration retaliation against states that are “sanctuaries” for immigrants (meaning states that have enacted laws to protect people who are in the country without legal authorization for reasons such as maintaining the public safety).

As a result of the DHS action, tens of thousands of New Yorkers whose applications for the Trusted Traveler programs are pending or who will have to renew their enrollment will be ineligible to do so and will instead have to undergo standard customs and passport checks as they enter the country.  Not only will this delay the average traveler, it could mean costly delays for the nearly 30,000 commercial truck drivers enrolled in a program that enables them to quickly cross the U.S.-Canada border at four ports of entry in upstate New York.

New York Attorney General, Letitia James announced that the Office of the New York Attorney General intends to sue DHS over this new federal policy.  Lepore Taylor Fox will continue to monitor this issue and its impact on travel into New York State.