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Trump Suspends Global Entry Travel Program in New York in Retaliation for State’s Driver’s License Law

Slate logo Slate 2/6/2020 Elliot Hannon
a man standing next to a laptop: A traveler waits in a passport control line at Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. Chris Hondros/Getty Images © Provided by Slate A traveler waits in a passport control line at Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey. Chris Hondros/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security informed the state of New York Wednesday that it would no longer allow New York residents to apply for its Global Entry travel program, which in return for a one-time thorough background check allows travelers, for a five-year period, to speed through airport border and security checks. The move is a reprisal by the Trump administration against the state of New York for its recent passage of the so-called Green Light Law that allows undocumented residents in the state to get drivers’ licenses, while also making it harder for the federal government to access state driving records, an effort to protect sweeping surveillance of undocumented immigrants.

The new law that went into effect in December allows New York motor vehicles departments to issue licenses to qualified applicants regardless of the applicant’s immigration status. The law requires only that applicants be able to prove: their name, date of birth, and New York state residency. Acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf told Fox News Wednesday night that the law prompted the Trump administration to freeze access to federal travel programs. The move does not affect the status of New Yorkers already enrolled in the federal “Trusted Traveler Programs” until they need to reapply, but a DHS official told the Washington Post it would impact as many as 150,000 residents of the state who apply to the traveler programs each year.

The move is an escalation of an ongoing feud between the Trump administration and New York state, which, along with a number of other big metropolitan areas, has passed laws aimed at limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Trump assailed these “sanctuary cities” in typically graphic, gruesome terms during Monday’s State of the Union address. The driver’s license law is popular in the New York’s metropolitan areas, less so in its more conservative rural parts. The new measure had prompted sparring between New York officials and the Trump administration, but the retaliation had remained largely rhetorical until the travel program suspension.

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