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Cuomo Calls Fed's Denial Of New Yorkers’ Access To Global Entry A ‘Political Stunt’

Mark Lennihan

State officials are reacting to the news that the federal Department of Homeland Security is ending an expedited travel pass known as Global Entry for New Yorkers crossing into Canada or Mexico or arriving home to an airport from a foreign country.

Global Entry, part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service, allows preapproved, low-risk travelers to get expedited clearance through automatic kiosks at select airports upon arrival into the United States. 

Now, the Department of Homeland Security says New Yorkers will no longer be eligible for this program, because of a recent law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Under that law, Customs and Border Protection as well as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, are prevented from access to New York’s DMV database.

Homeland Security says because the federal government no longer has access to that database, it can’t properly vet New Yorkers who apply for global entry.

The ban also prevents New Yorkers from applying for the NEXUS program, which allows expedited border crossings between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking on Albany Public Radio station WAMC, calls it a “political stunt.” And he says the law that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses, known as the Green Light law, is not changing.

“I don’t want unlicensed people on our roads, it’s a public safety issue,” Cuomo said.   

The leader of the state’s Republican Party, Nick Langworthy, says the decision will be a hardship for people around the state, and especially in western New York, where Langworthy lives. But he says it’s the fault of Cuomo and Democrats in state government who approved the Green Light law.

“This has consequences,” said Langworthy, who urged New Yorkers to call the governor to complain.

“They need to go back to state government and look the governor in the eye and say ‘why can’t I do what people can do in other states,’” Langworthy said.

Langworthy stopped short though of saying that Homeland Security was right to deny New Yorkers the expedited travel passes. But he says he believes the agency if it says New York’s law makes the nation’s borders less safe.  

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.