A federal judge ruled on October 13, 2020, that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) decision to suspend the eligibility of New York residents to enroll or re-enroll in the Trusted Traveler Programs (TTPs) operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) (the TTP decision) was unlawful. The judge also formally vacated the TTP decision to ensure that it will not be reinstated. The TTP decision resulted in the wrongful exclusion of more than 800,000 New Yorkers from TTPs, such as Global Entry.

As background, in June 2019, New York enacted the “Green Light Law” authorizing the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver’s licenses to residents without reference to immigration status. The law also prohibited disclosure of and access to DMV records by federal immigration officials absent a court order. In response, DHS implemented the TTP decision to exclude New York residents from TTPs. New York later amended its law to permit sharing of New York DMV records as necessary for individuals seeking to enroll in TTPs. However, the judge said the case was not moot due to lingering effects and that vacating the order was needed so it could not be reinstated. Judge Jesse M. Furman also said that the exclusion of New York was arbitrary and capricious and that government officials had made things worse “by repeating their misleading, if not false, representations, in some instances under oath.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state will seek civil damages from DHS. Among other things, Gov. Cuomo noted that congestion at airports while the coronavirus was spreading from Europe increased as a result. A spokesperson for Gov. Cuomo said the judge’s conclusion “confirms what we already knew: a radicalized Department of Homeland Security tried to extract economic pain on New Yorkers in the name of politics and then lied to the American people about it.”

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