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July 24, 2020 11:45 AM, EDT

DHS Lifts New York Trusted Traveler Ban

trucks at Canadian borderCommercial trucks make their way through the Canadian port of entry. (Cole Burston/Bloomberg News)

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The Department of Homeland Security announced it will lift its ban on certain Trusted Traveler Programs for New York residents.

The decision, announced July 23, ends a ban established in early February that prevented New Yorkers from enrolling in various programs, including the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program geared toward commercial truck drivers, the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI), NEXUS and Global Entry.

The ban followed enactment of New York’s Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, known as the Green Light law, in December.

Kendra Hems

Travel between New York and Canada is critical to our economy, and [this] announcement will keep trade across our shared border flowing swiftly and securely.

Trucking Association of New York President Kendra Hems

The law — which allows those age 16 or older to apply for a standard noncommercial driver’s license regardless of citizenship status — prevented New York State Department of Motor Vehicles officials from sharing personal license and vehicle registration information with those federal agencies that primarily enforce immigration laws.

DHS’ decision to lift the ban came after the New York State Legislature amended the law to allow sharing of New York’s DMV records as needed for people seeking entry into a Trusted Traveler Program, or to facilitate vehicle imports and exports.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement he met with President Donald Trump and legislative representatives to resolve the issue.

“We are pleased that Gov. Cuomo and the Trump administration were able to resolve their differences in a way that will allow New York residents to once again receive Trusted Traveler credentials,” Trucking Association of New York President Kendra Hems said. “Travel between New York and Canada is critical to our economy, and [this] announcement will keep trade across our shared border flowing swiftly and securely.”

Like Hems, American Trucking Associations expressed gratitude that New York leaders and Trump administration officials came to an agreement. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, trucks moved $343 billion in goods between the U.S. and Canada in 2019.

“The inability of New York residents to get a variety of Trusted Traveler credentials, including Free and Secure Trade cards, put unnecessary burdens on New York truck drivers,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “By reinstating these Trusted Traveler Programs for New York residents, the Department of Homeland Security is taking an important step to keeping our economy moving while maintaining our safety and security.”

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DHS noted in its announcement that New York continues to restrict sharing DMV information with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers for other enforcement efforts. DHS maintains that federal law enforcement officers depend on DMV records in efforts to combat gang activity, narcotics smuggling and terrorist threats.

According to the announcement, DHS is working with the Department of Justice to determine appropriate legal actions for this issue.

“We appreciate the information sharing to CBP for the Trusted Travel Program, which enables DHS to move forward and begin once again processing New York residents under the Trusted Travel Program,” acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said. “Nonetheless, local New York law continues to maintain provisions that undermine the security of the American people and purport to criminalize information sharing between law enforcement entities.”

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