New Yorkers Banned From Trusted Traveler Programs; U.S. Travel Association Responds

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New Yorkers can no longer apply or reapply for certain Trusted Traveler Programs, including Global Entry, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf announced last night on Fox News. 

Just a day after President Trump condemned sanctuary cities like New York in his State of the Union address, Wolf said DHS has “sent a letter to New York indicating, because they took these measures, that New York residents are no longer eligible to enroll in these Trusted Traveler programs.” 

The U.S. Travel Association, meanwhile, was quick to respond. Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes issued the following statement on the reported suspension of Global Entry and several other trusted traveler programs for residents of the state of New York:

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"Travel should not be politicized. Trusted traveler programs enhance our national security because they provide greater certainty regarding a person's identity, citizenship, and criminal background. Suspending enrollment in Global Entry and other trusted traveler programs only undermines travel security and efficiency. We are in contact with the Department of Homeland Security to convey this message."

New York’s “Green Light Law,” which took effect in December, allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses using ID from their home countries, and promises to not share their information with immigration agencies. 

A letter sent to New York State officials by DHSA called the law a major security threat because it prohibits U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from accessing DMV data as it investigates criminal networks, as well as for background checks on applicants for the Trusted Traveler program.

Trusted Traveler programs are “risk-based programs to facilitate the entry of pre-approved travelers” into the United States. Global Entry applicants are screened through background checks and in-person interviews, and then receive expedited clearance at the airport when they return from a trip abroad. 

The letter says New Yorkers are banned from “applying or re-applying” for four Trusted Traveler programs: Global Entry and SENTRI; NEXUS, for travelers from Canada; and FAST, for shipments from Canada or Mexico. It does not mention TSA Precheck, which allows Trusted Travelers speedier security screening as they exit the country. 

The letter, posted on the The New York Times website, states that “Over the years, CBP has utilized New York DMV records in several ways to promote national security and to enforce federal customs and immigration laws. Having access to New York DMV information has enabled CBP to validate that an individual applying for Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) membership qualifies for low - risk status or meets other program requirements. An individual's criminal history affects their eligibility for TTP membership…[and] prevents DHS from accessing relevant information that only New York DMV maintains, including some aspects of an individual' s criminal history. As such, the Act compromises CBP’s ability to confirm whether an individual applying for TTP membership meets program eligibility requirements.”

It also warned that “the export of used vehicles titled and registered in New York will be significantly delayed.”

CNN quoted Rich Azzopardi, adviser to New York governor Andrew Cuomo, as calling the move “obviously political retaliation by the federal government” and vowing “to review our legal options.” Meanwhile, former acting ICE Director John Sandweg told CNN that sanctuary policies do not affect how the Department of Homeland Security vets people for Trusted Traveler Programs.

"This is just irrational in the sense that sanctuary policies in no way shape or form affect DHS' ability to vet people for global entry and other trusted traveler programs," he said. "It's ridiculous, and it's politicizing a program that's not about politics. It's the kind of thing that's going to, frankly, politicize the department in a way that's going to undermine its mission moving forward."

This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.

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