Trusted Traveler Program Applications Suspended for New York State Residents

The Department of Homeland Security recently announced that it is suspending applications for Trusted Traveler Programs from residents of New York State. Trusted Traveler Programs, such as NEXUS and other global entry, allows for an expedited process for pre-screened travelers who are traveling between the United States and Canada.

As reported by WGRZ 2 On Your Side, the federal government cited New York State’s recently enacted Green Light Law as the reason for suspending Trusted Traveler Program applications from New York State residents. The Green Light Law allows illegal aliens, who are residing in New York State, to receive a state issued driver’s license. In addition, the Green Light Law prohibits New York State DMV data from being shared with federal law enforcement agencies such as Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

New York State officials who support the Green Light Law argue that other states already have similar laws in place and DMV data is not needed for the extensive screening process that is required for applicants of Trust Traveler Programs such as NEXUS. State and local officials who opposed the Green Light Law argue that the Department of Homeland Security’s actions indicate the law should be repealed.

As part of WGRZ’s reporting on this matter, anchor Scott Levin interviewed attorney Barry Covert for legal analysis. Their conversation addressed if the debate will lead to a court battle, what this ban means for residents of New York State, and the likely outcome if the dispute does go to court. Continuing reading for Barry Covert’s comments regarding the suspension of Trusted Traveler Programs and click the video below to watch the full interview.

Court Challenge to Trusted Traveler Program Suspension

WGRZ Anchor Scott Levin began the interview by asking if the dispute between New York State and the Department of Homeland Security would end up in court. Barry Covert stated: “Without a doubt. New York State is already looking at how they’re going to challenge this. There’s what’s called an Administrative Procedures Act, which is a federal law that allows agencies to be sued for arbitrary and capricious laws or regulations. And New York State is certainly going to take the position that this is arbitrary and capricious. For example, twelve other states have similar privacy laws on the books. None of them have been banned like New York State has been banned. Another example, under these four different exceptions, Trusted Traveler Programs, New York State now is the only state that’s been banned, but Mexico and other countries are permitted on all four other programs for Trusted Travelers to come in to the country. So, Mexicans are allowed to use the program, New York State residents are not. And so New York State is certainly going to take the position that that shows that this is arbitrary and capricious and political.”

Barry Covert was then asked a follow-up question regarding whether eleven more states could face a similar ban in the near future. He replied: “Absolutely. You could see them also banning these other states that have similar privacy laws. We could perhaps be the first one that they have done this to.”

The Future for New and Renewing NEXUS Applicants

Scott Levin concluded the conversation by stating a lot of people, they want to renew their NEXUS pass and not have to wait in a long line. He asked what Barry Covert what he thinks will happen to this dispute in court. Mr. Covert said: “I think we are particularly affected here in Western New York because we go over the border to Canada and use the NEXUS pass. I think that unfortunately the judicial branch gives great deference to the executive branch when it comes to safety at the borders. So I think it’s going to be very difficult to get this law overturned.”