New York vs. Trump: Sanctuary law fight explodes
So far, TSA’s Precheck program is not included on the list of expedited screening programs now off-limits to newly-enrolled New Yorkers.
A TSA Precheck security line at San Francisco International Airport. The expedited security option could be restricted for New York applicants. | Eric Risberg/AP Photo
02/06/2020 04:41 PM EST
New York on Thursday vowed to fight a Trump administration attempt to keep New Yorkers from enrolling in most programs that help international travelers move faster through airports and border checkpoints, an explosive scuffle that’s sure to land in the courts.
Thursday afternoon, following the Homeland Security Department’s decision to shutter new enrollments for New Yorkers in Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST, New York’s Attorney General, Tish James, said she would fight the move, which she called a “vindictive” decision aimed at New York’s recent law allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for drivers licenses.
“Despite President Trump’s attempt to punish New Yorkers for passing its own laws and standing up to his xenophobic policies, New York will not back down,” she said, noting that the law had already withstood two federal lawsuits.
Further, she noted that while 13 other states and the District of Columbia had passed similar laws, none had been “singled out and targeted” in the same manner.
But earlier Thursday, acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli threatened a similar fate for other states that enact sanctuary laws.
“Obviously, we would urge New York to undo that law and restore some sanity,” Cuccinelli said, adding that Washington and other states considering such sanctuary laws will risk a similar response from DHS.
Any ban could affect up to 200,000 New Yorkers who planned to enroll or renew their memberships this year, as well as 30,000 commercial truck drivers enrolled in the FAST program at four New York-Canada ports of entry, he said.
So far, TSA’s Precheck program is not included on the list of expedited screening programs now off-limits to New Yorkers. But it could be in the future, Cuccinelli said.
Democrats’ reaction was swift and angry. During an unrelated Homeland Security Committee hearing in the House Thursday, several New York-area lawmakers accused the administration of playing politics.
“We heard about this from Fox News. This is politics at its worst,” said Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.), who engaged in a heated exchange with Customs and Border Protection official John Wagner, who was testifying at the hearing.
Wagner declined to comment on Rose’s accusation that the change was political, but said he would work with Congress to address the conflict.
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“If you really were making an effort to address a problem, there would have been a system, a proposal, a negotiation, a conversation, letters written. That is the way business is conducted,” said Rose, who acknowledged he didn’t support the state legislation that triggered DHS’ action.
Rose and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), who noted that she is enrolled in Global Entry and now won’t be able to renew when it expires, criticized the agency for not giving Congress a heads-up first.
“My office has already received an influx of new questions about this policy overnight. Fifty to 80,000 New York state residents are affected, have pending Global Entry applications or renewals,” Rice said. “This is going to have an enormous impact on people, many of whom entered into this program because their jobs require them to travel internationally.”
“It seems to me that this is once again an attempt by this administration, specifically Donald Trump — who formerly was a New Yorker — to punish New York,” Rice said.
It’s not just Democrats who are critical. The conservative think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute is opposed, arguing that there’s “no known national security threat or plausible risk analysis to support” the change.
Further, the decision means that when it comes to Global Entry, the administration now privileges Mexican nationals, who can enroll in Global Entry, over New York residents, CEI’s Marc Scribner wrote.
“It appears the Trump administration may well have violated federal law by retaliating against New York State for its immigrant driver license policy,” he wrote.
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