New Yorkers Blocked to Enroll Trusted Traveler Programs, ASTA and NTA Oppose
- Özgür Töre
New York residents will no longer be eligible to apply for or renew their enrollment in certain Trusted Traveler Programs like Global Entry.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the suspension in response to New York State implementing the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act (Green Light Law). The law prohibits the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) from sharing information with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), preventing DHS from fully vetting New York residents. The Acting Secretary informed State officials by letter of the change. The letter may be read here.
“New York’s ‘Green Light Law’ is ill-conceived and the Department is forced to take this action to ensure the integrity of our Trusted Traveler Programs. It’s very clear: this irresponsible action has consequences,” said Acting Secretary Chad Wolf. “An aspect of the law which I’m most concerned about is that it prohibits the DMV from providing ICE and CBP with important data used in law enforcement, trade, travel, and homeland security. ICE uses the information as they investigate and build cases against terrorists, and criminals who commit child sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and financial crimes. Unfortunately, because of this law, they can no longer do that”
Wolf continued: “CBP also uses that data for national security purposes and to ensure safe and lawful trade and travel. Specifically, CBP is able to offer Trusted Traveler Programs like Global Entry because we are able to use DMV data to make an evidence-based assessment that those individuals who seek this benefit are low risk and meet the eligibility requirements. Without the DMV information we aren’t able to make that assessment. DHS notified New York DMV that New York residents can no longer enroll or re-enroll in these trusted traveler programs because we no longer have access to data to ensure that New York Residents meet those programs requirements. We must do our job.”
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) runs Trusted Traveler Programs like Global Entry, FAST, SENTRI and NEXUS which rely on access to DMV data to determine whether the person is who they say they are and if they have a criminal record. When that data is denied, the security is compromised. CBP expects the move to affect up to 150,000-200,000 New York residents who seek to renew membership in a CBP Trusted Traveler Programs this fiscal year. There are almost 30,000 commercial truck drivers enrolled in the FAST program at four New York-Canada ports of entry.
NTA President Catherine Prather said that DHS's suspension weakens the security of travel and increases the burden on the traveling public.
"Trusted Traveler programs streamline the travel experience and strengthen the country’s security by providing a higher level of identity verification. Decreasing wait times at both inbound and outbound airport security checkpoints—and the associated alleviation of congestion at those checkpoints—increases overall security and lessens the burden of travel.
The Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry Program is one of the most popular Trusted Traveler programs, with 2.4 million participants. Global Entry has successfully reduced wait times by more than 70 percent, with three out of four participants passing through checkpoints in under five minutes.
The administration’s decision applies to four of the five federal Trusted Traveler programs: NEXUS, Global Entry, SENTRI, and FAST. It does not affect TSA PreCheck or currently enrolled members of Global Entry.
Our hope is that the Department of Homeland Security will reconsider this action and resume enrolling New York applicants in all federal Trusted Traveler programs. NTA will continue to engage with that agency and others to ensure the best possible travel experience."
Zane Kerby, President & CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), issues the following statement:
“We strongly oppose this measure on behalf of the 8,700 New Yorkers who work at travel agencies in the state, their clients and partners.
The Administration could have used a scalpel here, but chose a sledgehammer instead. Penalizing every New Yorker enrolled or who plans to enroll in valuable trusted traveler programs like Global Entry over a dispute between the federal and state government is wrong. Now more than ever, the government should be looking for ways to facilitate travel, not hinder it. “Further, this ‘fix’ is nonsensical.
Those in the Global Entry program have already produced a valid passport (proving citizenship in the U.S. or other participating countries), have submitted fingerprints, and passed a background check in order to qualify. Denying them the ability to renew because the New York DMV isn’t sharing information with the Department of Homeland Security regarding undocumented immigrants makes no sense.” “We call on the Administration to reverse this decision and call on our New York members to contact their elected officials. We will be giving our members the tools to do so in the coming days.”