All New Yorkers Banned from NEXUS
The Department of Homeland Security recently announced that New Yorkers will be banned from applying for, or renewing membership in programs that expedite international travel, including Global Entry, FAST, SENTRI and NEXUS. The move comes as a response to NY’s recently enacted “Green Light” Law. DHS expects 150,000 to 200,000 New Yorkers will be affected by the ban.
What is the “Green Light” Law?
The “Green Light” law allows illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses and bars immigration agencies (specifically, CBP and ICE) from accessing state DMV data. Under the new law, New York’s DMV could issue driver’s licenses to all eligible state residents without regard to citizenship or immigration status and without a social security number. DHS claims that the law makes it impossible for agencies to properly vet applicants of Trusted Traveler Programs as the programs rely on access to DMV data to determine whether the person is who they say they are and if they are qualified. The DMV database allows officers to access information about a vehicle registration holder, which can then be used to determine if a driver has a criminal history.
Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf tweeted “This has nothing to do with illegal aliens receiving drivers’ licenses. NY is the ONLY state to shut off CBP access to DMV records used for law enforcement purposes in our homeland security mission. Without access, CBP cannot vet Trusted Traveler applicants. It’s that simple.”
On the other side, Attorney General of New York, Letitia James at a news conference said that “… [the ban] is an attack, a full attack, a frontal attack on New York’s rights as a sovereign state.” States have the power to issue driver’s licenses under the 10th Amendment and many States have already enacted legislation similar to New York’s Green Light law. Unauthorized immigrants can obtain a driver’s license in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia. However, according to Secretary Wolf, New York is the only State that restricts CBP access to their data across the board – for law enforcement, customs, trade and travel facilitation purposes.
On Monday, NY officials filed a federal lawsuit in Manhattan against DHS and CBP challenging the ban. The lawsuit alleges that the move was unconstitutional and political retribution for the State’s Green Light law. New York is arguing that banning NY residents from enrolling or re-enrolling in the Trusted Traveler Programs profoundly jeopardizes public safety for New Yorkers.
Trusted Traveler Programs
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush and Congress established the 9/11 Commission to investigate how to prevent future attacks. The Commission recommended expediting travel for known travelers so officers can spend more time identifying threats. CBP launched the first phase of the Global Entry Program in 2008. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. As of 2018, more than 5 million people participate in the program. The NEXUS program grants pre-screened travelers expedited processing when traveling between the United States and Canada by air, land, or sea. NEXUS recently made changes to its program to further facilitate travel.
Silver Immigration will continue to monitor the status of New Yorkers being banned from NEXUS and provide updates as they come. If you need to speak with an immigration attorney, you may book a phone call here.