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Photo via Wikimedia Commons
The Trump administration banned New Yorkers from programs that allow travelers to pass through airport security and customs.

Calling the Trump administration’s sudden ban of New Yorkers from using trusted traveler programs “extortion,” Governor Andrew Cuomo announced New York state’s intent to sue the federal government over the policy.

Last June, Cuomo signed the Green Light Law, allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses in New York and preventing federal immigration agencies from accessing the Department of Motor Vehicle data.

Cuomo said the ban is politically motivated and a direct retaliation for the Green Light Law. Thirteen other states and the District of Columbia have Green Light Laws, but New York is the only state that has been targeted for retaliation.

“Time and time again President Trump and his Washington enablers have gone out of their way to hurt New York and other blue states whenever they can as punishment for refusing to fall in line with their dangerous and divisive agenda,” Cuomo said. “The Department of Homeland Security’s decision to ban New Yorkers from the Trusted Traveler Program is yet another example of this administration’s disrespect of the rule of law, hyper-partisan politics and use of extortion. 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.”

Hundreds of undocumented immigrants lined up outside the DMV in Whitestone in January when the Green Light Law was enacted. (Courtesy of Make the Road NY)

The lawsuit which will be brought by Attorney General Letitia James, will argue that DHS has violated New York’s sovereign immunity, not provided the state’s residents with equal protection and is acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner that denies the rights and privileges of all New Yorkers.

“This is political retribution, plain and simple, and while the president may want to punish New York for standing up to his xenophobic policies, we will not back down,” James said. “We plan to take legal action and sue the Trump administration for its unfair targeting of New York State residents.”

Trusted Traveler Programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS and FAST, facilitate the entry of pre-approved travelers into the United States using expedited lanes at airports and international borders. Under the DHS ban, New Yorkers will no longer be eligible to apply for or renew memberships in the programs.

“This new policy will negatively impact travelers, workers, commerce, and our economy, so we will fight the president’s shortsighted crusade against his former home” James said. “We will not allow New Yorkers to be targeted or bullied by an authoritarian thug.”

James added that the Green Light Law is legal and enforceable, and two separate federal courts have already dismissed meritless lawsuits against it.

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