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NYS Attorney General files lawsuit over new Trusted Traveler policy

AG argues rule prohibiting New Yorkers from enrolling/renewing was "arbitrary"
Posted at 2:30 PM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 09:38:10-05

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York State Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration over its new policy that prohibits New Yorkers from enrolling or renewing in the federal government's Trusted Traveler Programs such as NEXUS. SENTRI, FAST and Global Entry.

The moves comes as part of the ongoing controversy with New York's "Green Light Law" which allows undocumented immigrants to apply for a NYS drivers license. The newly enacted law also prohibits sharing NYS Department of Motor Vehicles (NYSDMV) information with federal customs and border patrol agencies.

All four U.S. Attorneys for New York State signed a statement saying the Green Light Law and lack of DMV information sharing "poses a grave risk to the safety of the officers, the person, and the public."

James Kennedy, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, said NYS is the only state that prohibits the sharing of DMV information with federal law enforcement and it is hurting efforts to protect the country, conduct investigations, and stop human trafficking.

Attorney General Letitia James argues the decision to block New Yorkers from the TTP programs was "arbitrary" because several other states have similar laws and their residents were not restricted from using Trusted Traveler Programs.

“Today, we are filing a lawsuit to stop the president and his Administration from punishing New York for passing its own laws. The Trump Administration’s new policy not only negatively impacts travelers, workers, commerce, and our economy, but it jeopardizes public safety. No one should ever use our nation’s security as a political weapon, let alone the commander-in-chief.”

According to the press release from the AG's office, the Buffalo-Niagara region could be hurt economically because of the new federal policy:

  • 30,000 drivers in the FAST program will lose access to the automated system.
  • Drivers in the NEXUS program — which, in Western New York alone, services 6,500 trips across the Peace Bridge, the Whirlpool Bridge, the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, and the Rainbow Bridge each day — would be severely handicapped.
  • 25-percent of auto traffic utilizing the Peace Bridge relies on the NEXUS program and 60-percent of truck drivers utilize the FAST program.
  • A car driven by a non-NEXUS driver typically takes four times longer to move across the Peace Bridge than a car driven by a NEXUS driver.