New York Attorney General Letitia James said the ban is politically motivated, intended to punish the state for exercising its sovereignty.
New York is suing the Trump administration for barring its residents from enrolling or re-enrolling in Trusted Traveler Programs like Global Entry.
The federal lawsuit, filed Monday, claims the administration’s decision is politically motivated and serves no practical purpose.
“The Trump administration’s new policy not only negatively impacts travelers, workers, commerce, and our economy, but it jeopardizes public safety,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “No one should ever use our nation’s security as a political weapon, let alone the commander-in-chief.”
As NBC News report, the Department of Homeland Security announced last week that it would suspend New Yorkers’ access to Global Entry, FAST and NEXUS. The decision followed Trump’s criticism of “New York’s sanctuary policies” in his State of the Union address.
In a separate statement, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the suspension arises form New York’s so-called “Green Light Law.” The law—like others implemented across the country—permits residents over the age of 16 to apply for ordinary driver’s licenses regardless of their immigration status. Alongside potentially giving undocumented immigrants driving privileges, New York’s “Green Light Law” also bars Immigration and Customs Enforcement—along with Customs and Border Patrol—from accessing the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles database without a signed court order or warrant.
James, though, says the government is violating New York’s constitutionally protected, state-level rights—a punishment “for passing its own laws.”
“This is a full-on attack on New York’s rights as a sovereign state,” James said, calling the ban “political retribution.”
Drivers licenses, said James, have nothing to do with federal travel programs, which require applicants “hold valid, machine-readable passports, lawful permanent resident cards, ‘or other appropriate travel document[s].’”
Eligibility, the lawsuit states, “does not hinge on an applicant possessing a state driver’s license.”
“[The] consequences will ripple throughout the state. Congested lines at New York’s airports and border crossings will strain resources at the border and undermine safety for all travelers,” the suit alleges. “New York’s economy will suffer as wait times at border crossings increases. Employers doing global business are placed at a competitive disadvantage, and residents who rely on cross-border travel lose access to these programs.”
New York is requesting that a court rule the travel restrictions unconstitutional; its suit points out that, while a dozen other states permit undocumented migrants to obtain driver’s licenses, the Trump administration is only punishing one.
“Singling out one state for coercion and retribution as a means to compel conformity with preferred federal policies is unconstitutional,” the suit says.
In a separate statement, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) placed the blame squarely upon Trump and his political minions.
“President Trump and his enablers are once again taking their aim at New York’s economy in a way that not only inconveniences travelers, but also creates very real security issues,” he said.