New York will sue the Trump administration over its decision to bar the state’s residents from its popular fast-track Global Entry programme, calling it “political retribution” for a state law that allows undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licences.
“This new policy will negatively impact travellers, workers, commerce and our economy, so we will fight the president’s shortsighted crusade against his former home,” New York attorney-general Letitia James said in a statement on Friday.
The lawsuit is set to escalate an already tense relationship between the president and his home state over immigration policies.
New York’s Green Light law, which came into effect in December, allows undocumented residents to obtain driver’s licences and prohibits the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing its database with federal immigration agents.
In a letter to the New York DMV on Wednesday, acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf said the new law had made it difficult for his department’s agencies to determine whether applicants meet the Global Entry programme requirements.
“The New York law has a crippling impact on [the] integrity of these travel programmes, and without access to New York records systems, our personnel are unable to conduct risk assessments to screen-out criminal histories,” Mr Wolf said in response to a press conference announcing the state’s plan to sue.
Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, decried the ban as a partisan move by the Trump administration “for refusing to fall in line with their dangerous and divisive agenda”. State officials have accused the current administration of unfairly singling out New Yorkers, when 13 other states and the District of Columbia had passed similar laws.
“There is no rational basis for this politically motivated ban, and we are taking legal action to stop the federal government from inconveniencing New Yorkers to score political points,” Mr Cuomo said.
The Customs and Border Protection agency said as many as 200,000 New Yorkers looking to renew their membership will be affected.
Global Entry has been popular with frequent-flying executives. The Global Business Travel Association, a group representing business travellers, expressed its “displeasure” about the proposed restrictions on a call with the Department of Homeland Security and the New York governor’s office on Friday morning, executive director Scott Solombrino told the Financial Times.
“We’re deeply concerned,” he said, warning that barring New Yorkers from renewing or applying for Global Entry could snarl up airports, compromise safety and deter some of airlines’ most profitable passengers from flying.
“It’s the global business travellers who keep the system running, because they’re paying top dollar,” Mr Solombrino said. “We’re hoping clearer heads will prevail.”