Cuomo, Trump Hold 'Productive' Meeting On Trusted Traveler Program Ban

WCBS 880 Newsroom
February 13, 2020 - 6:15 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to the White House on Thursday to meet with President Donald Trump to offer a compromise when it comes to trusted traveler programs.

The Department of Homeland Security recently blocked New Yorkers from participating in Global Entry and other programs because of the state's new "Green Light Law" which allows undocumented immigrants to get a drivers licenses but also blocks federal access to motor vehicle records.

In a statement, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad F. Wolf described Thursday's meeting as "productive."

"The relationship between New York State and the Federal government is very important but has been made difficult by the unilateral actions of New York State regarding the sharing of critical security information with DHS," Wolf said. "New York is the only State that restricts CBP access to their data across the board – for law enforcement, customs, trade and travel facilitation purposes. Despite that, we will continue discussions with the State of New York to find a mutually agreeable solution."

Meanwhile, Dani Lever, Gov. Cuomo’s communications director, issued a statement saying, “Governor Cuomo restated the initial solution that he proposed to the DHS Acting Secretary last Thursday on our willingness to allow federal officials’ access to DMV records only for individuals applying to the Trusted Traveler Program.”

"As the Governor previously said, we believe DHS's action was politically motivated and unwarranted as the FBI already has information regarding criminal records and TTP applicants already go through an extensive federal background check,” Lever added. “The President said that this is an issue he wants to work on and that he would follow up with the Governor next week.”

The governor had said Washington is trying to make "political noise" about immigration, but DHS says they have used motor vehicle records to arrest drugs dealers and human traffickers and claim the "Green Light Law" endangers national security.

Cuomo was prepared to offer the government access to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicle if it means restoring access to the trusted traveler and other re-entry programs.

"So that should resolve it, unless, it's not really about TTP and Global Entry and it's about what that memo that was leaked from DHS suggests, which is it's all politics and it's retaliation and it's reprisal, because they are really upset that we give licenses to undocumented people," Cuomo said before departing for Washington on Thursday.

The governor told WAMC that he will never give up the complete database and will not allow DMV records to be used for immigration enforcement.

Ahead of the meeting, President Trump tweeted that Cuomo must understand national security far exceeds politics and New York must start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes. 

Trump wrote, "Build relationships, but don’t bring Fredo!" in a reference he has made in the past to Cuomo's brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.

The Cuomos have called that reference a racial slur.

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its acting-leaders on Monday.

The lawsuit argues that the policy change is arbitrary and poses a threat to New Yorkers' safety and the State's economy, directly harms hundreds of thousands of individual residents, and interferes with New York's rights as a sovereign state.