February 18, 2020

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Department of Homeland Security Suspends New York Residents From All Trusted Traveler Programs

As an aftereffect of the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act that went into effect on December 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has now suspended Trusted Traveler Programs such as Global Entry (for entry from abroad), NEXUS (for entry from Canada), SENTRI (for entry from Canada and Mexico), and FAST (for truck drivers entering the U.S. from Mexico) for the state of New York. The DHS has also notified that Vehicle Exports for used vehicles titled and registered in New York will face a significant delay and will be costlier.

Trusted Traveler Programs

Trusted Traveler Programs facilitate the entry of pre-approved travelers into the U.S. using expedited lanes at airports and international borders. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and President Trump will meet on Thursday, February 13, 2020, to discuss a potential compromise with the administration.

On February 7, 2020, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced New York State’s intent to sue the federal government following the DHS’s decision to suspend New Yorkers from the Trusted Traveler Program. The lawsuit that is to be brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James will argue that the DHS has violated New York’s sovereign immunity, deprives New York residents with equal protection, and is acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner that denies New Yorkers rights and privileges.

New York Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act

Also called the Green Light Law, New York is among the 15 states to have passed this law. This enables undocumented immigrants in New York to apply and receive a New York state driver’s license. The Act forbids the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) officials from providing any information on a driver’s license or vehicle registration to the DHS. Further, the Act specifically precludes U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from having access to any pertinent information contained in the New York DMV records.

On February 5, 2020, Acting Secretary of the DHS Chad F. Wolf wrote a letter to Mark J.F. Schroeder, Acting Commissioner of New York State DMV, and Theresa L. Egan, Executive Deputy Commissioner of New York State DMV, expressing their concerns over not having access to vital DMV records. The letter also highlighted the various efforts taken by CBP and ICE to curb child predators, gang members, and seizure of illegal narcotics, which have been possible with the information from New York DMV. The letter further reiterated how critical it was for the DHS to have cooperation from the New York DMV to ensure the DHS’s effort to protect the nation.

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Raymond Lahoud Immigration Attorney Norris McLaughlin
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Raymond G. Lahoud, Chair of the firm’s Immigration Law Practice, focuses exclusively on the area of immigration law and deportation defense for individuals, families, small to large domestic and multinational businesses and corporations, employers, international employees, investors, students, professors, researchers, skilled professionals, athletes, and entertainers, in every type of immigration or deportation defense matter—whether domestic or foreign.  While Ray’s immigration practice is global in reach, with service to individuals and organizations across the United States and beyond,...

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