Reed, Cuomo React to New Yorkers Shut Out of NEXUS

Governor claims decision is political, congressman says it's about security

Tom Puckett
February 07, 2020 - 4:00 am

NEXUS kiosks located at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. December 4, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Governor Cuomo claims the decision by Homeland Security to keep New Yorkers out of trusted travelers programs like NEXUS is political. New York's Green Light Law allows illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses and does not give the federal government access to data.

"This is unbounded arrogance, disrespect of the rule of law, hyper-political government, and this is another form of extortion. This is what Trump did with Ukraine. This is the ethos of his federal government. The specific is Department of Homeland Security, gentleman by the name of Ken Cuccinelli, who is a conservative operative for them," Cuomo tells WAMC's Alan Chartock. "Many other states have it, but it triggers the immigration debate that they're so fond of using to divide the people of this nation which they've done successfully. Polarization is their political mantra. What they're saying is if New York has this Green Light Law that says essentially you can't use DMV data, Department of Motor Vehicle data, for immigration purposes, right, because we have people who have a license but who are undocumented. That's the point of the Green Light Law. Other states have the same law."

Cuomo says the purpose of the law is to keep drivers safe, but he claims people who want to apply have to do this in person. "They're just making a political point, a political stunt and the reason it's ludicrous is to sign up for the Trusted Traveler Program, TTP, you have to do an in-person interview. It has nothing to do with a state database. You have to sit before a federal official who looks at you and says, "let me see your passport, let me see your date of birth, let me see your Social Security Card." If you are an undocumented person, you're not going to go for an in-person interview in front of a federal official," says Cuomo.

Congressman Tom Reed reacted to Cuomo's claims of politics in two words. "That's bull," says Reed. "One party extremist control to appease that agenda comes with a consequence, and there is a risk to our safety, and I'm going to make sure our citizens are safe. We cannot have any type of security threat go unchallenged or unaccounted for." Reed says by issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, there is a threat because unvetted people are getting access to those documents. 

Reed says he warned of this a few weeks ago. "I said there could be potential action taken," says Reed. "Does this mean when you go to an airport, will a driver's license not be good enough for a flight? Will a passport or something else be required?" ponders Reed. "I could see this easily happen, but I have to defer to Homeland Security to see if something like this needs to occur."

Reed says when you read the 9/11 commission report, you'll see terrorists value travel documents as important as weapons. "This is about protecting the safety of New York residents," says Reed. 

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