TSA Pre-Check, enhanced licenses not affected by federal ban on travel programs in New York, but could be next

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After confusion among travelers most of the day, TSA Pre-Check and New York’s Enhanced Driver’s Licenses both appear to not be affected by the Department of Homeland Security’s ban on New Yorkers’ ability to join “Trusted Traveler Programs.”

The programs affected, which include Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST, help frequent flyers and truck drivers get through international borders and customs easier.

Current members of the programs can continued using the benefits until they expire, but are not able to renew.

People who are in the middle of the application process will not be approved, but their money will be refunded.

The policy change is putting New Yorkers in the middle of a feud between President Donald Trump and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Tuesday, Trump threatened action against communities that protect “illegal aliens.”

The change in policy, announced in a letter to New York State on Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, is blamed on New York’s Green Light Law.

Starting in December, New York State began allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. In order to protect those undocumented immigrants from federal ICE officers, that law also restricts police agencies from accessing Department of Motor Vehicle records.

In what Cuomo’s office considers “political retaliation,” the Department of Homeland Security claims its limited access to records reduces its ability to effectively vet the people who apply for the “Trusted Traveler Programs.”

“We recognize that many New York residents and businesses will be negatively affected by this change, but we cannot compromise the safety and security of our homeland. When states take negative measures that hinder our ability to protect our great country, we must respond,” says Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan.

In an interview with Alan Chartock on WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Cuomo said:

“So it’s all politics, they want to make their political point, which is they’re anti-immigrant. New York is supporting immigrants and this is another way to make their political point and if they have to inconvenience New Yorkers to make their political points, so be it, because they’re all about the politics.”

In the hours since the announcement, many Central New York leaders have responded to the change.

Congressman John Katko, a Republican representing the Syracuse area, says he’s willing to use his role on the House Homeland Security Committee to facilitate a conversation between New York State and the federal government.

In a statement, Katko writes:

“This overreaching policy, and sanctuary policies as a whole not only impact New York State, but they have significant federal implications and, as we have seen with this shift in DHS policy, can harm state and federal cooperation. Restricting access to state DMV databases prevents federal agencies from carrying out their national security missions and opens up our nation and our communities to immeasurable threats. In addition to the security gaps this policy presents, it is now inconveniencing New York State travelers and businesses. It is critical to the interests of New York residents and our national security, that the negative ramifications of this policy be addressed.”

In an interview with Madison County Clerk, Michael Keville, who oversees the DMV in Wampsville, he fears that this ban is only the first step and that enhanced licenses and TSA Pre-Check could be targets next.

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