BUFFALO, N.Y. – Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s going to sue the federal government after it blocked New Yorkers from enrolling in a program that makes it easier to cross the border due to the state’s Green Light Law, which grants drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants.
New York Attorney General Letitia James plans to file the lawsuit next week.
“It’s unfortunate that we could not come to some resolution. We have no other option but to defend the rights of New York State, which is why we will go to court,” James said at an event in Niagara Falls Friday.
Also on Friday, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown sent a strongly worded letter to the acting chief of the Department of Homeland Security, detailing the economic impact that banning New Yorkers from the Trusted Traveler programs could have on the city.
“Literally, millions…billions of dollars flow across that border,” Brown told News 4.
In his letter, Brown wrote that in 2018, nearly 2 million trucks crossed local border bridges and that being a border city strengthens this area.
“People who come here for sporting events, for business deals, and any number of things that are important for the economy here,” Brown said.
Following Thursday’s formal announcement to suspend Nexus and other Global Entry programs for New Yorkers, AG James said this action is retaliation for New York trying to protect its residents, including undocumented immigrants. James said several other states have laws similar to the Green Light Law.
“Every lawsuit. Just about every lawsuit, the majority of lawsuits challenging Green Light have failed,” she said.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Congressman Tom Reed said he worried something along these lines would happen.
“We had been picking up some chatter that the Green Light Law was being reviewed and it was having impacts on analysis in regard to our national security risk,” Reed said by phone on Friday.
Homeland Security, under the Trump administration, claims it had to do this because New York restricting federal access to DMV records created a national security threat, but Cuomo says the state already gives the FBI this data.
“If Homeland Security wants access to our database just go to the FBI,” Cuomo said during a Friday press conference.
“The truth is it’s Customs and Border Protection…that needs access to this information, not the FBI, and they need it in real time,” Reed said.
Attorney General James says drivers’ licenses don’t make or break a person’s admission to the strict Trusted Traveler programs such as Nexus, which require interviews, Passports, and more.
The acting secretary of Homeland Security announced it was banning New Yorkers from enrolling in such programs Wednesday night during an interview on Fox News.