Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf wanted to cleared the air Sunday over his department's decision to bar New Yorkers from participating in Global Entry and Trusted Traveler Programs [TTP], stating that it has nothing to do with the state's decision to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, and everything to do with keeping Customs and Border Protection [CBP] officials from accessing necessary data.
House Democrats demanded that Wolf's department turn over documents related to the decision, calling it a "senseless, retaliatory" move.
"This has nothing to do with the law that they passed regarding providing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. Again, that's wrong, that's dangerous, and that's irresponsible, but that's separate from what we did this week," Wolf told Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures."
Wolf announced his decision in a letter Wednesday, stating that New York's "Green Light Law" has kept CBP officials from accessing information that only the state's Department of Motor Vehicles [DMV] had, making it difficult to determine if applicants are truly eligible for Global Entry or other programs letting travelers enjoy expedited processing upon returning to the U.S.
Wolf stressed the significance of having access to the state's DMV data in order to conduct proper security checks for applicants to programs such Global Entry, saying New York was making it impossible for CBP to do what was needed.
"New York is the only state, that bears repeating, the only state that restricts CBP access to their DMV data across the board, not only for immigration purposes, but for law enforcement purposes, for customs purposes, but also for trade and travel facilitation purposes."
Wolf said applicants are supposed to be subjected to checks and those with criminal records would be disqualified from the program, but New York was not letting CBP check DMV databases in order to vet the applicants.
"Because New York took this action, the department had to respond and take appropriate action to make sure that the rest of the individuals in these programs continue to be able to use the program," Wolf said. "Without access, we cannot run a proper security check and a risk assessment, and that is simply dangerous."
The move -- after President Trump explicitly called out New York's sanctuary policies in his State of the Union address -- has been part of a broader crackdown by the Trump administration on sanctuary policies. Such policies often involved banning local law enforcement and other officials from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, in order to shield illegal immigrants from deportation.
Fox News' Adam Shaw and Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo contributed to this report.