Cuomo will give the DHS access to state DMV records, after all

Governor Cuomo announcing his intent to sue the government after decision to ban New Yorkers from Trusted Traveler Program.
Governor Cuomo announcing his intent to sue the government after decision to ban New Yorkers from Trusted Traveler Program.
Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor Cuomo announcing his intent to sue the government after decision to ban New Yorkers from Trusted Traveler Program.

Cuomo will give the DHS access to state DMV records, after all

On a case-by-case basis, anyway.
February 12, 2020

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling President Donald Trump’s bluff by giving the Department of Homeland Security access to the state Department of Motor Vehicles records on a case-by-case basis. 

Cuomo has said he’ll allow the DHS access to the DMV records of those applying to the Trusted Traveler programs. And Cuomo is expected to sit down with Trump on Thursday to discuss the DHS’ suspension of New Yorkers’ applications to the programs.

“He offered a meeting and his earliest availability was tomorrow and I took him up on it,” Cuomo said during a radio interview on Wednesday.

Last week, DHS informed the state DMV that New York residents were no longer eligible to apply to Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, Nexus, TSA PreCheck, Sentri and FAST, which give travelers access to expedited security lanes at airports and national borders. The federal department cited the state’s recent passage of the Green Light law – which allows people living in the country illegally to get driver’s licenses and bars federal access to DMV records to protect their identity – as their cause for doing so. 

State lawmakers called the move “political retaliation” for passing the Green Light law, which the Trump administration has openly criticized. On Monday, a leaked DHS memo revealed that the department was in fact looking for ways to punish states that are denying access to DMV records, BuzzFeed News reported.

"From the beginning we have said the Trump administration's decision to ban New Yorkers from the trusted traveler program was politically motivated retaliation meant to specifically punish New York. We were right," Cuomo said in a statement, referencing the leaked memo.

The governor isn’t just relying on DHS’s good will and his gifts of persuasion to get the Trusted Traveler programs back up and running. On Monday, he also announced that the state has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for barring New Yorkers from applying to the Trusted Traveler programs. 

“We will not allow the president of the United States to single out New York, to discriminate against New York, to target New York, and to coerce us, to coerce our state into changing its policies to comply with his preferred federal policies," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in her announcement of the lawsuit. “Make no mistake, this is an attack, a full attack, a frontal attack on New York’s rights as a sovereign state."

Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
is City & State's web reporter and social media editor.
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