Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf exclusively told Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Wednesday that DHS was immediately suspending enrollment in Global Entry and several other Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) for all New York state residents — a dramatic move in response to the liberal state's recently enacted sanctuary "Green Light Law."
The sweeping order came a day after President Trump, in his State of the Union address, condemned left-wing states and local governments that "release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public," and called on Congress to pass a law establishing civil liability for sanctuary cities.
Illegal immigrants rushed to New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) in large numbers after the "Green Light Law," which allowed them to obtain driver's licenses or learner's permits regardless of their immigration status, took effect last December. The law also permitted applicants to use foreign documents, including passports, to be submitted in order to obtain licenses.
In a letter to top New York state officials obtained exclusively by Fox News, Wolf noted that the New York law prohibited DMV agencies across the state from sharing criminal records with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
"In New York alone, last year ICE arrested 149 child predators, identified or rescued 105 victims of exploitation and human trafficking, arrested 230 gang members, and seized 6,487 pounds of illegal narcotics, including fentanyl and opioids," Wolf wrote. "In the vast majority of these cases, ICE relied on New York DMV records to fulfill its mission."
The "Green Light Law," Wolf went on, "compromises CBP's ability to confirm whether an individual applying for TTP membership meets program eligibility requirements."
"This Act and the corresponding lack of security cooperation from the New York DMV requires DHS to take immediate action to ensure DHS' s efforts to protect the Homeland are not compromised," he said.
Because TTPs rely on state records to verify individuals' identities and conduct thorough vetting, New York residents "will no longer be eligible to enroll or re-enroll" in select TTPs -- including Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST. The new rule does not affect existing memberships in these programs until it is time to re-enroll.
Wolf noted that TTP "permits expedited processing into the U.S. from international destinations (under Global Entry); Canada only (under NEXUS); and Canada and Mexico only (under SENTRI)." Additionally, TTP allows quicker processing for commercial truck drivers entering or leaving the U.S. (under FAST).
Speaking to Fox News on Thursday, CBP Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations Todd Owen said that only New York DMV records contain accessible information concerning DUIs and aggravated traffic offenses, including misdemeanors and felonies.
Owen said about 86,000 New York residents will likely be impacted immediately, including those who have applied for TTP or who are currently up for renewal. Approximately 800,000 New York state residents will likely be impacted over the five-year term of TTP programs, he said.
TSA PreCheck was not among the TTPs affected by the order, a DHS official confirmed to Fox News. TSA was not impacted because it was not affected by the "Green Light Law," Owen told Fox News on Thursday.
However, anyone who has PreCheck through Global Entry will be affected, Owen confirmed. He added that those who are no longer eligible for TTP and who have pending applications will receive refunds.
Wolf further warned that because the New York law "hinders DHS from validating documents used to establish vehicle ownership, the exporting of used vehicles titled and registered in New York will be significantly delayed and could also be costlier."
He said DHS' assessment was ongoing and future enforcement action remained possible.
Responding to the news late Wednesday, Rich Azzopardi, a senior aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, told CNN: "This is obviously political retaliation by the federal government and we're going to review our legal options."
And, New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday slammed the move as "vindictive.'
"Despite 13 other states and the District of Columbia already passing similar laws that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses, the Trump Administration yesterday singled out and targeted New York State and its residents by informing the New York State DMV that New York residents could no longer enroll or reenroll in a number of Trusted Traveler Programs," James said, adding that the attorney genera's office was removing the matter.
During his State of the Union address, Trump explicitly called out New York's sanctuary policies.
"Just 29 days ago, a criminal alien freed by the Sanctuary City of New York was charged with the brutal rape and murder of a 92-year-old woman," Trump said. "The killer had been previously arrested for assault, but under New York's sanctuary policies, he was set free. If the city had honored ICE's detainer request, his victim would be alive today."
Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight" investigative producer Alex Pfeiffer contributed to this report.