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New York amends 'Green Light Law' to cooperate with federal law enforcement on DMV records

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Thu, Jul 23rd 2020 05:15 pm

From the Department of Homeland Security:

Today, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will lift its ban on the Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) for New York residents. After DHS cut off the TTP program in February, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature amended the law that prevents sharing of information to federal law enforcement officers who are working to protect the citizens of New York and the American people.

New York amended the “Green Light Law” (Driver's License Access and Privacy Act) to expressly allow for information sharing of state DMV records “as necessary for an individual seeking acceptance into a trusted traveler program, or to facilitate vehicle imports and/or exports.”

DHS said, “Unfortunately, New York state continues to restrict sharing DMV information with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for other enforcement efforts. The state further recently created new criminal penalties for individuals or entities, including law enforcement officials, who share such information with CBP and ICE. DHS is currently working with the Department of Justice to determine appropriate legal actions to address these problems.”

Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said, “We appreciate the information sharing to CBP for the Trusted Travel Program, which enables DHS to move forward and begin once again processing New York residents under the Trusted Travel Program. Nonetheless, local New York law continues to maintain provisions that undermine the security of the American people and purport to criminalize information sharing between law enforcement entities.

“The ‘Green Light Law’ ultimately undermines the efforts of law enforcement officers, criminalizing their mission to secure the nation and the American people from threats and furthering the risk to their own lives. When jurisdictions like New York fail to cooperate with federal authorities, they operate more like refuges from criminal behavior, not sanctuary havens.”

DHS said, “Blocking federal law enforcement officers from accessing DMV records creates a significant threat to both public safety and officer safety. The data provided by state officials is vital to identify foreign terrorist connections and build criminal cases and identify criminal suspects including gang members, sex offenders, drug smugglers and others.

“The clear lesson from the horrific attacks on Sept. 11 – leading Congress to create DHS to protect against future such attacks – was that information sharing is vital to our security. DHS was created to make it possible to share information between local, state and federal law enforcement and work together to secure the homeland and protect our communities and the American people.”

Cuomo issued a statement wherein he said, "After the Department of Homeland Security announced the ban on the Trusted Traveler Program for New York residents in February, I immediately met with President Trump at the White House to discuss what – to the extent that there were bonafide concerns – needed to be done to address the issue while still protecting the privacy of all New Yorkers. Subsequently the matter was dealt with in the state budget passed in April. I am glad that this issue has finally been resolved for all New Yorkers."

In another statement, Congressman Brian Higgins, who serves as co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus, said, “Law-abiding Americans and northern border commerce were collateral damage in this policy targeting New Yorkers. We have been calling on the state and federal governments to negotiate in good faith to resolve this dispute and we are a pleased they’ve reached an agreement. However, it comes at a time when the northern border is closed to the free flow of people due to the administration’s failed leadership on the pandemic. We want the northern border reopened to all, but that won’t happen until the administration takes this health emergency seriously and works to bring down surging COVID cases across the United States.”

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