The Department of Homeland Security began blocking New York residents from applying for their trusted traveller program, Global Entry, over the state’s “Sanctuary policies” but there’s more to the story and DHS was right to do it.
The people’s state of New York and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have beef and I am confident that some of this has been an ever-increasing escalation of the personalities involved rather than the issues at hand. New York had the right to change the laws of their state and the DHS had the right to employ their standards and enforce them. The Wall Street Journal has an excellent write-up of the issue, to quote the authors Hackman and Vielkind:
“The primary New York state policy at issue, which took effect in December, blocks officials with Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement from accessing driver’s license records unless they have a court order. The same law, known as the “green light” law, allows unauthorized immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses.”
The two have taken a nuclear option within both their control. New York state (and city respectively) have done all they can to fight a proxy battle for undocumented immigrants. The DHS, in turn, has also pushed the big red button blocking 80,000 new applicants (fees refunded) and not allowing expiring Global Entry holders to renew (anticipated 150,000 affected this year.)
The DHS Was Right to Do This But Its Approach Could Have Been Better
This may not be popular, but regardless of political persuasion, the DHS has a duty to perform. That duty is to verify the background on entrants to the program. If Sanctuary state policies like that of New York block the DHS from doing that, they can’t simply ignore those that they can’t fully verify.
That said, DHS could have handled this differently. For example, the state of California has also designated their state as a Sanctuary state but did not face the same new applicant registration ban. The DHS also had this less-than-professional response on the New York issue:
DHS immediately objected to the policy. “It makes every person more vulnerable when you shield pedophiles, child pornographers, human traffickers, and terrorists from law enforcement,” spokeswoman Heather Swift wrote on Twitter in December.
That’s not exactly fair. While it is true that those without a verifiable background may fall into those categories, it’s not as though those are the only people applying for Global Entry in the state of New York. The percentage is rather small and entirely unverifiable. But that’s kind of the DHS’s point.
What Can Be Done for New Yorkers?
New York residents have a tough decision to make. The first move is to sue the Department of Homeland Security to block their ban, an action which is underway. Some New Yorkers who have alternative addresses may want to consider getting identification from those states and registering elsewhere.
The other option would be to alter the manner in which they execute Sanctuary state rights. If state-issued identification fails to meet federal standards (such as REAL ID requirements) then a state like New York or even just Manhattan could comply with the ID standards but otherwise maintain their Sanctuary state approach.
Some New Yorkers may also simply accept that they cannot have both in the current political environment, so they believe that providing a Sanctuary state is more important than convenience upon arrival.
Many people forget that New York state is rather large and nearly entirely rural outside of New York City. I feel for those outside the city who are caught in the middle of this but I understand both sides hard stance. New York wants to create a welcoming environment for immigrants regardless of documentation status. The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for running background checks using qualified information and can’t do their job without it. In the end, the DHS needs to apply this evenly anywhere they were incapable of executing their duties to maintain the integrity of the program.
What do you think? Was the DHS right to block New York residents from applying for new Global Entry applications? Should DHS allow New York state residents to register? Do you think the DHS response was retaliatory or measured?