Trump Administration Bans New York Residents from Trusted Traveler Programs

Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, LLP
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On February 5, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that New York residents will no longer be eligible to apply or re-apply for several Trusted Traveler Programs (TTPs), which serve to expedite travel screening and entry to the U.S. at major airports nationwide.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR NEW YORK RESIDENTS

  • All New York residents (including U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents) will no longer be eligible to apply (or re-apply) for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) TTPs including Global Entry, FAST, SENTRI and NEXUS.
  • For now, enrollees with current TTP memberships may continue to participate in designated programs until their current membership expires, but will be unable to re-apply once their current membership expires.
  • New York residents with pending TTP membership applications will be denied.
  • TSA Pre-Check, the TTP that offers faster airport security lines for domestic travel, was not specifically named in the DHS letter. It is unclear how the Administration’s action will impact participation in TSA Pre-Check.

BACKGROUND

The TTP restriction is DHS’s response to New York State’s Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act (known as the “Green Light Law”), which took effect in December 2019. The law allows all New York residents aged 16 and older to apply for a standard (not for federal purpose) non-commercial driver license or learner permit regardless of their immigration status in the U.S. Proponents of the Green Light Law view it as a public safety measure, as it allows all New York residents regardless of immigration status to be registered drivers with the state. DHS’s complaint is that the law limits the ability of the federal government to access state driver’s license information. TTPs entail extensive national security vetting independent of any state program, including state driver’s license programs. Moreover, a New York State driver’s license conveys no right to participate in a TTP. In this respect, the Administration’s punitive action against New York residents appears to be politically motivated.

It is anticipated that approximately 175,000 New York residents will be removed from the TTPs by the end of 2020, and that between 150,000 and 200,000 New Yorkers will be unable to renew their memberships in each of the next five years. In addition, more than 80,000 New Yorkers who have already applied for new TTP membership will not be permitted to participate.

New York State has not yet indicated whether it will pursue legal action against the Trump Administration. A senior advisor to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated “This is obviously political retaliation by the federal government and we’re going to review our legal options.”

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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