The federal government wants to get back at our state government for its immigrant-friendly policies.
So it’s taking out its wrath on thousands of New Yorkers who travel in and out of the country.
In response to the state’s passage of its “Green Light Law,” which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, the federal Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday it will prevent New Yorkers from signing up for so-called “trusted traveler” programs.
These programs — Global Entry, NEXUS, ENTRI and FAST — allow travelers faster re-entry from abroad when driving or flying into the country.
The justification for this action is that the Green Light Law provision against the state sharing certain information with federal officials prevents the feds from fully vetting travelers, and therefore puts all travelers at risk.
But that claim is highly suspect.
To begin with, it’s not exactly easy for anyone to get into these trusted-traveler programs. Approval is not as simple as showing them a driver’s license.
Applicants must first fill out an extensive form, and any false information is grounds for disqualification.
The application for the Global Entry program requires applicants to be U.S. citizens. Undocumented immigrants are not allowed to apply, and those holding New York licenses issued under the Green Light program are ineligible.
To apply, applicants have to present a valid passport, which one can only get from the federal government.
In addition, the feds can reject anyone who’s been convicted of a crime, has violated customs or immigration regulations, is under investigation by law enforcement and anyone they deem isn’t a “low risk.”
And finally, applicants have to appear in person for an interview before they get approved. That step alone will discourage many undocumented immigrants from applying.
Cooperation with New York authorities on motor vehicle information would be helpful, but the federal government has many other resources at its disposal. And besides, if the feds really want state DMV information, they can get at it by obtaining a court order.
This action is nothing more than political retaliation based on President Trump’s immigration crackdown, and it’s meant to send a message to states like New York and others that have enacted special legal protections for immigrants.
That message is: If you don’t play ball, we’ll take it out on your citizens.
National security decisions like these should be based on actual safety concerns. Not politics.