BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A new Buzzfeed report claims the trusted traveler program suspension in New York was political retribution by the Trump Administration.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling it a 'Ukraine-style extortion right here in our own country.'
"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," said Governor Cuomo. He goes on to say, "We were right. The leaked DHS memo [buzzfeednews.com] is the smoking gun that proves that the Trump administration is once again knowingly abusing power by using government to extort states for political purposes, with no rational link to a legitimate policy.
The White House announced its plans earlier this month to ban all New Yorkers from enrolling in trusted traveler programs like Nexus. Federal authorities say the move was in direct response to New York's Green Light Law, which prevents immigrant agents from getting access to state motor vehicle records.
The State of New York responded to the decision by announcing legal action. The state's attorney general argued the White House was denying New York residents their rights and privileges.
The Trump Administration says the state's Green Light law prevents the DMV from providng federal agencies, like ICE and border agents, with important information used for national security and ensuring the safety of trade and travel.
The Buffalo Niagara Partnership wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security asking it suspend its decision on the travel programs until a resolution is reached.
Dottie Gallagher, BNP president and CEO, said this is a "tremendous" concern and is calling on state and federal government to fix it fast.
"Albany and Washington need to figure it out. There’s a lot of finger pointing and we’ve just got to actually solve the problem. This is not a reasonable solution," Gallagher stated.
Gallagher says the flow of people and commerce over the U.S-Canadian borders is critical to the region’s success.
"The free flow of people and goods is really critical for the economic competitiveness of our region, so cut it out. That’s our message to the federal and state government," remarked Gallagher.