State Officials Call NEXUS Decision 'Extortion'

"This is unbounded arrogance disrespect of the rule of law."

WBEN Newsroom
February 06, 2020 - 3:54 pm
Trusted Traveler Programs

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BUFFALO (WBEN) - "I'm very frustrated by nothing short of extortion by the Trump Administration," said Kathy Hochul on Thursday afternoon in response to the federal government blocking New York State residents from entering in Trusted Traveler Programs such as NEXUS.

The order from the Department of Homeland Security came late Wednesday in the form of a letter to New York State Department of Motor Vehicle Commissioner Mark Schroeder. The change suspends travel programs such as Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST, meant to expedite entry into the United States for low-risk travelers.

The change is a direct response to the Green Light law which took effect in December. It allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses and blocks federal immigration officials including Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection officials from accessing motor vehicle records.

"The Trusted Traveler Program has nothing to do with who receives a New York State license because the licenses that are going to people, if they're not a citizen of the United States, it says 'Not for federal purposes' literally on it," Hochul continued. "There's no connection - they are not eligible for the NEXUS Program; they are not eligible for Trusted Traveler Programs, so this is a farce."

Listen to Hochul's full comments below:

The feud between the Cuomo and Trump Administrations has been well documented ever since Trump took office, and Cuomo took a direct shot at the President by comparing this action to those that got him impeached.

"This is unbounded arrogance disrespect of the rule of law, hyper-political government, and this is another form of extortion," said Cuomo. "This is what Trump did with Ukraine; this is now the ethos of his federal government.

"What (Ken) Cuccinelli (Principal Deputy Director of the USCIS) now says is, 'If you have that Green Light Law, we are not going to allow New Yorkers to sign up for their Global Entry Program'...which is where you can get pre-clearance to come in through the borders or at an airport."

State Assemblyman Pat Burke was never in support of the Green Light Law, but he is completely displeased with the optics of this decision.

"I think the Green Light Bill creates a series of problems that complicates things, but that's not what this is," Burke said. "This is an aggressive administration creating a political problem for their benefit and targeting New Yorkers.

"The idea of being blackmailed by the federal government...I disagree with the Green Light Bill - I voted against it - but the idea of bowing down to the federal government, that, again is seemingly trying to hurt New Yorkers for their political benefit is not something that I'm going to go along with, and I'm going to stick up for the people I represent, and our economy and fight them."

Like New York's Attorney General Tish James, Hochul says they're exploring their options and vows to fight back.

"We are looking at our legal options; it will have to end up in court," she said. "We have to protect our economy here in New York State, particularly here in Western New York. Why they're trying to punish businesses and people trying to go back and forth across the border to help our livelihood and our economy here - this is shameful and it has to stop."

Listen to Burke's full comments below:

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