Cuomo Tries to Open Door with Feds over Trusted Traveler Program

"I'll give them the database, but no social security numbers"

WBEN Newsroom
February 21, 2020 - 11:32 am
Governor Cuomo updates standoff with feds on WAMC Radio in Albany

AP Photo

ALBANY, N.Y. (WBEN) - Governor Andrew Cuomo may be floating a new compromise to restore the Trusted Traveler Program in New York State to speed access at airports and border crossings. 

Appearing with Alan Chartock on WAMC Radio in Albany Friday, Cuomo said he would be willing to give the federal government the state's DMV database -- just not the social security numbers of those within it.

"I will give to the FBI any criminal information. I will give them Global Entry information. I will give them anything but Social Security numbers," said Cuomo. " The Social Security numbers are the indicator of documented or undocumented. And I will never give them that. Over my dead body," he said.  

The governor said ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) wants the DMV database like they want oxygen. He compared it to shooting fish in a barrel. 

This appears to be a new effort to end the standoff over TTP. 

Even if accepted by the Trump administration, this would require approval by the state legislature, which is not a given. 

Chartock asked Cuomo if the feds are going to continue to get rough with him.  "I'm sure they are going to continue to try to extort us," said Cuomo.

Recently, Cuomo has said he would be willing to restore federal access to driving records on a limited basis.  

Last week, Cuomo met with Trump and said he offered a slightly different compromise: allowing federal officials access to the state driving records of applicants to traveler programs who undergo a sit-down interview with federal officials and supply documents such as a passport.

Cuomo said the Trump administration has also slowed the process of exporting used vehicles from New York as customs officials argue they need access to state DMV data to verify vehicles’ ownership.

Trump administration officials have said the decision was necessary because New York’s new law had endangered public safety by making it tougher for immigration and border agents to quickly confirm someone’s identification, check for fugitive warrants or see if a person has a criminal record. They have denied that federal immigration officials want access to the state’s DMV database to obtain lists of immigrants in the country illegally.

Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James have said New York’s law still ensures law enforcement has access to the information it needs to do its job. Federal officials, for example, can access the FBI’s criminal database. New York’s law also allows for the release of state motor vehicle records to immigration agencies under a judicial warrant, court order.

New York is among more than a dozen states that have passed laws allowing people who are not legal U.S. residents to get driver’s licenses. But each state differs when it comes to whether and how federal immigration officials can access state motor vehicle records.

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