The Trump Administration blocked New York residents from applying for Trusted Traveler Programs. We look at what that might mean for you.
In a letter to the New York State Government released on February 5, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a temporary freeze on applications for Trusted Traveler Programs, specifically citing Global Entry, NEXUS, Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI), and the Free and Secure Trade. These programs, which require background checks, allow for quicker security clearance upon arrival to the U.S.
This new block is a response to–and, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, a retaliation for–New York’s recently enacted Green Light Law, which allows undocumented people to obtain driver’s licenses. The law also states that, “the commissioner, [nor their] agent or employees…. shall…disclose or make accessible in any manner records of information that he or she maintains, to any agency that primarily enforces immigration law or to any employee or agent of such agency.” This stipulation reinforces that the only way to access such documents is through a court order or granted warrant.
The acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, directly blamed the Green Light Law for this freeze in the letter to the New York state government, stating that access to Department of Motor Vehicles databases is required to run a thorough check on applicants to these programs.
While the new block, along with its true intent and legality, will be debated in the coming days, here’s what the freeze’s potential effects might mean for you.
How Long Will Applications for Trusted Traveler Programs Be Suspended?
As of right now, it is unclear how long this freeze will last, but the New York State Government has stated that they believe this to be political retaliation and that they will be “review[ing their] legal option.”
What If I Already Have Global Entry?
If you already have global entry, you should be good as long as a re-application is not required in the near future. The block is on those currently enrolling for the program, as the DHS states that adequate background checks cannot be done due to the law that went into place mid-December. If you were approved for Global Entry prior to this freeze, there should be no problems regarding your use of it.
Will This Impact Additional Sanctuary States?
While it is not clear yet if the Trump administration plans to take aim at other sanctuary states, it is possible that this freeze could extend to those that also grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. The DHS specifically seems to be taking issue with the Green Light Law’s clause that requires a warrant to access the DMV databases. If your state has similar stipulations in place, be prepared for the block to extend to you.
What If You Live in New York but Have a License From Another State?
For those living in New York with a valid driver’s license from another state, you will likely still be able to apply for Global Entry. This is because the various agencies running checks to grant approval for the program will be able to access your information through that state’s DMV without a court order or warrant. The application requires a valid passport and another form of ID (typically a driver’s license). As long as the ID is not a New York driver’s license, there should be no issue vetting your application.
Will New Yorkers Still be Able to Enroll for TSA Precheck?
A TSA spokeswoman told the New York Times that this will not affect one’s ability to apply separately for TSA Precheck. If you currently have TSA Precheck, that status will continue to stand, and applications for the program remain open.
Will This Make Security and Customs Lines Super Long at New York Airports?
For those who do not belong to any of the programs listed by the DHS, plan for longer waits at customs as this block continues, as people who were applying for the first time or who need to reapply are now no longer eligible. Global Entry additionally comes with TSA Precheck, so until travelers get approved separately for TSA Precheck, anticipate longer lines at security.
INSIDER TIPFor those wanting to move through lines quicker, consider downloading a mobile passport app. According to Customs and Border Protection, these apps allow you to submit your passport and answer “inspection-related questions to CBP.” If successfully done, users will not have to complete paper forms or “use an APC kiosk,” allowing for more efficient trips through customs.