The Trump administration is putting the squeeze on the state of New York over its "Green Light Law" that allows illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses, and it's probably going to leave some international air travelers very annoyed.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday that Empire State residents will no longer be able to apply for or renew their membership in a list of department travel programs like Global Entry, which are designed to get people through airports and ports of entry more quickly after determining that they don't pose a risk to national security.
What's the department's reasoning?
A provision in New York's new Green Light Law blocks the Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing information with DHS, the release says, and therefore DHS can't adequately vet New Yorkers for Customs and Border Protection's various Trusted Traveller programs.
"New York's 'Green Light Law' is ill-conceived and the Department is forced to take this action to ensure the integrity of our Trusted Traveler Programs. It's very clear: this irresponsible action has consequences," acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.
"CBP is able to offer Trusted Traveler Programs like Global Entry because we are able to use DMV data to make an evidence-based assessment that those individuals who seek this benefit are low risk and meet the eligibility requirements. Without the DMV information, we aren't able to make that assessment," Wolf added. "We must do our job."
CBP expects the change to affect between 150,000 to 200,000 New York residents who seek to renew membership in one of the travel programs this year.
On a Thursday afternoon conference call with reporters, DHS senior official Ken Cuccinelli explained that TSA PreCheck — which deals with domestic flights — would not be affected, but that it could in the future, NBC News reported.
Cuccinelli also warned that other states looking to follow New York's lead could face similar consequences in the future.
"They should know that their citizens are going to lose the convenience of entering these Trusted Traveler Programs, just as New York's did," he said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) told WAMC-FM Thursday that the move was a "political stunt" and the Green Light Law was going to stay in effect.
"I don't want unlicensed people on our roads," Cuomo said. "It's a public safety issue, and that's what I'm concerned about,"
"This is unbounded arrogance, disrespect of the rule of law, hyper-political government and this is another form of extortion," Cuomo said.
Cuomo signed the driver's license bill into law in June. It allows people without legal status in the U.S. to use foreign documents to get state-issued licenses. When it went into effect in December, DMV offices across the state were flooded with license applicants.