New Yorkers were initially blocked from applying in February.

By Alison Fox
July 27, 2020
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The Department of Homeland Security will allow New Yorkers to apply for and renew Global Entry membership after the agency initially blocked residents from participating in the Trusted Traveler Program in February.

The original decision to cut New Yorkers out of the popular travel programs — which help people speed through the immigration process at airports — was made after New York passed a “Green Light Law,” which allows people to apply for a specific driver's license using an expanded list of documents (including foreign passports and foreign driver's licenses) and banned the sharing of records “to any agency that primarily enforces immigration law” without a court order or warrant or unless required for federal ID purposes.

On Thursday, DHS said it was once again allowing New Yorkers to participate because the state has since amended its law to allow DMV records to be shared “as necessary” when applying to a trusted traveler program. New York still won’t share those records for other types of enforcement.

However, according to CBS New York, while New York’s effort to block those records was billed as unique, several states, including California, have similar policies in place and were allowed to remain in the trusted traveler programs.

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New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo railed against the DHS on Friday, calling the initial decision to cut state residents out of the program “political exploitation” and said there is “possible criminal liability” and “civil liability.”

“[The] Department of Homeland Security made a startling revelation yesterday late afternoon. New York State was not the only state to have a green light law and as there were other states that also had the Green Light Law there was nothing unique about New York to justify their punitive action against New York,” Cuomo said during a news conference. “What happened yesterday is they got caught.”

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement that while the trusted traveler programs have once again been opened up to New Yorkers, “Nonetheless, local New York law continues to maintain provisions that undermine the security of the American people and purport to criminalize information sharing between law enforcement entities.”

Residents of the Empire State who want to apply for the programs, will have to wait as U.S. Customs and Border Protection has postponed the reopening of enrollment centers for traveler programs, including Global Entry, until September 8.