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DHS head: Trusted traveler program ban a reaction to 'dangerous' New York law

Evie Fordham

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf responded on Sunday to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's decision to sue his department after it blocked New Yorkers from Trusted Traveler Programs.

DHS's decision is a response to a law, which took effect in December, allowing any person over the age of 16 to apply for a driver’s license regardless of U.S. citizenship status. Part of that law also prohibited the state's Department of Motor Vehicles from giving records to federal immigration agents.

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"This has nothing to do with the law that they passed regarding providing driver's licenses to illegal aliens," Wolf said on "Sunday Morning Futures." That's dangerous, but that's separate from what we did this week. New York is the only state — that bears repeating, the only state — that restricts [Customs and Border Protection] access to their DMV data across the board, not only for immigration purposes, but for law enforcement purposes."

On Thursday, DHS retaliated, saying it would no longer allow New Yorkers to enroll, or renew their membership in, certain federal programs that make it easier for people traveling internationally to get through border security, including Global Entry.

The ouster is expected to affect at least 175,000 New Yorkers now enrolled in the programs, who will be kicked out as their permits expire, plus around 30,000 commercial truck drivers enrolled in a program that eases their crossings into the U.S. from Canada.

"If New York wants to restore this access, then we're happy to continue to process these applications," Wolf said on Sunday.

"My job is to make sure that this program maintains its integrity so that individuals in New York are processed and evaluated the same as individuals in Michigan, Minnesota or California, and right now, because New York took this action, the department had to respond," he said.

Several other states have similar policies of allowing unauthorized immigrants to get driver's licenses, but New York is the only state that bans the sharing of motor vehicle records with immigration agents, Department of Homeland Security officials said.

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President Trump has been singling out New York in recent months for especially harsh criticism over so-called "sanctuary" policies for immigrants.

The president assailed New York City officials in his State of the Union address over its policy of not turning over some criminal defendants wanted for immigration violations. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also recently sent subpoenas to law enforcement in Denver and New York seeking information on immigrants they hope to deport.

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FOX Business' Ann Schmidt and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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