Press Releases

Chairman Nadler Condemns Suspension of Global Entry and Trusted Traveler Programs in New York, Demands Answers from DHS & CBP

Washington, February 6, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) released the following statement condemning the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s decision to suspend enrollment in Global Entry and several other Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) for all New York state residents, and delay the exporting of used vehicles titled and registered in New York State:

"The Trump Administration’s decision to exclude New Yorkers from Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs is an outrageous and retaliatory abuse of executive authority.  If New York’s 'Driver's License Access and Privacy Act' truly prevented DHS from administering these travel programs, the federal government should have coordinated with state and local officials to develop a solution.  Instead, the Administration announced this unilateral decision on Fox News.

"This decision is an affront to the rights of all New Yorkers.  It is yet another example of the Trump Administration rewriting our immigration laws, and retaliating against states and localities who stand up for what is right."

In addition, Chairman Nadler sent a letter to DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan expressing his concern with this decision and demanding answers on its legality. 

Full text of the letter is below and here:

February 6, 2020


The Honorable Chad Wolf
Acting Secretary
Department of Homeland Security
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, D.C.  20528

The Honorable Mark A. Morgan
Acting Commissioner
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20229

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf and Acting Commissioner Morgan:

We write to express serious concern with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) recent announcement preventing New York state residents from enrolling or re-enrolling in Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Trusted Traveler Programs (TTPs).  On the evening of February 5, 2020, Acting Secretary Wolf gave an exclusive interview to Fox News where he announced DHS’s decision to punish New York state for passing the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act.[1]  Acting Secretary Wolf followed up with a letter to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, stating the Department’s decision and citing to no legal authority.[2]

DHS’s decision is yet another attempt to retaliate against states and localities that refuse to be commandeered by the federal government.  From the earliest days of the Trump Presidency, this Administration has attempted to punish so-called “sanctuary” cities and states—localities that refuse to implement the President’s restrictive immigration agenda.  Five days after his inauguration, President Trump issued an Executive Order threatening “appropriate enforcement action” and withholding of federal funds for various jurisdictions.[3]  In 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent letters to several jurisdictions threatening to subpoena documents relating to state and local law enforcement coordination with federal immigration authorities.[4]  Over the last two years, federal judges around the country have repeatedly barred this Administration from withholding federal funds from such jurisdictions.[5]  Now, unable to overcome these legal obstacles, this Administration has embraced a new, lawless path.

As noted, DHS cites to no legal authority in support of its decision to prevent New York residents from enrolling or re-enrolling in TTPs.  Federal regulations relating to these programs, such as Global Entry[6] and the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI),[7] do not include any provision for categorical disqualification of applicants based on their state of residence. 

With yesterday’s decision, DHS has barred millions—including those travelling to and from one of America’s financial hubs, New York City—from TTPs.  These programs promote national security and efficient travel.  Applicants undergo rigorous security screening, including a background check and submission of biometric information.  This decision was not motivated by our national security interests, but instead by partisan politics and a blatant disregard for states’ rights.

We request answers to the following questions:

  1. What statute or regulation authorizes DHS to prevent all New York state residents from enrolling or re-enrolling in TTPs?
  2. Will this decision impact New York state residents currently enrolled in TTPs?  Will any New York state residents be disenrolled from these programs as a result of the suspension?
  3. Will DHS be amending its regulations regarding TTPs to implement this decision?
  4. Will DHS be providing a detailed explanation to the public regarding implementation of this decision?
  5. Did DHS make any efforts to coordinate with state and local officials to address the agency’s concerns, prior to sending the letter to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles?  
  6. Did DHS explore alternatives for obtaining information purportedly collected by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles?
  7. When will the suspension of enrollment and re-enrollment come into effect? 
  8. It appears that applications for certain TTPs, such as Global Entry, are experiencing months long backlogs.  How will current applicants be affected?

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

[1] N.Y. Veh. & Traf. § 201 (2019).
[2] Letter from Acting Secretary Chad Wolf
[3] Executive Order 13768, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States (Jan. 25, 2017).
[4] Major Developments Relating to Sanctuary Cities Under the Trump Administration, Am. Civil Liberties Union 6 (Aug. 27, 2018)
[5] City of Philadelphia v. Attorney General United States, No. 18-2648 (3d Cir. 2019) (holding that the Attorney General could not condition federal Justice Access Grants on greater coordination with federal officials on matters of immigration); City of Los Angeles v. Barr, No. 18-56292 (9th Cir. 2019) (same).
[6] 8 C.F.R. § 235.12.
[7] 8 C.F.R. § 235.7 (describing the Port Passenger Accelerated Service System (PORTPASS), a legacy system of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service; SENTRI is a PORTPASS program).