In a move that smacks of political retribution, Department of Homeland Security officials last week announced that, starting immediately, New Yorkers will no longer be able to enroll or reenroll in Global Entry or similar programs. Some 175,000 New Yorkers would be expelled from the program by the end of this year; 80,000 with pending applications are out of luck.
The stated reason for the rule is New York’s Green Light Law, signed last year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses and blocks New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing its records with federal immigration agencies unless so ordered by a federal court. More than a dozen other states, plus the District of Columbia, grant driving privileges without regard to immigration status, but New York is the first to make its DMV database off-limits to immigration agents.
That’s the rub for acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf, who said the law jeopardizes national security. However, Mr. Wolf, who offered no example of unique data maintained by New York’s DMV and vital to national security, wears his bias on his sleeve. Last month, he tweeted that so-called sanctuary laws had caused a “complete breakdown of law & order in New York City.” In fact, major crimes in the city have dropped more than 80 percent over three decades, and the major felony rate fell again last year to a record low, despite an increase in murders.
Mr. Wolf says that without access to New York’s DMV database, immigration enforcement agencies can’t see records they need to “build cases and . . . investigat[e] criminal networks.” That’s a dubious assertion; multiple databases containing criminal records and terrorist information are available to federal enforcement officials, including those maintained by the FBI. Even if it were true, how would it empower federal authorities to hold hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers hostage by canceling their eligibility for Global Entry? Nor is there any nexus between New York’s DMV records and Global Entry. More than 3 million adults in New York state lack state-issued driver’s licenses, but most are eligible for Global Entry, which generally requires proof of citizenship but no driver’s license.
Mr. Cuomo, his arm twisted, said he was open to giving immigration officials access to state DMV records — but only for applicants to Global Entry and similar programs. That would protect undocumented immigrants who seek driver’s licenses; they are generally not eligible for Global Entry.
It’s unclear if that will satisfy President Trump, who abhors sanctuary jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agencies. This week, he appeared to introduce an even more egregious quid pro quo, when he said New York should drop its “unnecessary lawsuits.” In other words — thousands of New Yorkers will be inconvenienced unless the state stops seeking the president’s business records?
The administration is free to pursue legal action against sanctuary jurisdictions, as the Justice Department did this week in suing New Jersey, California and King County, Wash. It’s another matter to carry out a campaign of naked political revenge and extortion while citing hollow threats to the homeland.