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The Department of Homeland Security Suspends Trusted Traveler Enrollment in New York

By Colleen DiNicola

On February 5, 2020, acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chad Wolf announced that, effective immediately, residents in the state of New York will no longer be able to enroll or renew a membership in any of the four main Trusted Traveler Programs (Global Entry, NEXUS, Sentri, and FAST). The announcement was made in a letter sent from Secretary Wolf to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The suspension is in response to New York’s Green Light law, which went into effect in December 2019. This law allows county and state DMVs to issue driver’s licenses to all qualified applicants regardless of immigration status so long as they can prove their name and date of birth and show New York state residency. The law also prevents the release of information in the DMV’s databases to agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) absent a court order.

The Trump Administration has been very critical of New York’s Green Light law as well as its sanctuary city polices. Secretary Wolf states that access to New York’s DMV records is essential to properly vet applicants for Trusted Traveler Programs.

The suspension does not impact current Trusted Traveler members. However, it will affect all new and renewal applications for Trusted Traveler programs. Up to 80,000 applications pending review with CBP will be immediately cut off. CBP also estimates that over the next 12 months, between 150,000 and 200,000 New Yorkers will be due to renew their memberships. As of today, they are barred from renewal.

The suspension does not currently impact members of TSA Pre-Check, which is administered by the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA). However, this could change since both TSA and CBP are agencies within the Department of Homeland Security.

Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler programs allow members expedited processing at land border crossings and airports coming into the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

The suspension is not related to the severe processing delays for new and renewal applications filed within the past 12 months. Please see our previous post on this here.

The Global Immigration Team at Mintz will continue to monitor this development and provide important updates.

Please click here for the official press release from the Department of Homeland Security.


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