The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that New York residents will no longer be allowed to participate in any Trusted Traveler Programs, including FAST, NEXUS, and Global Entry. The decision was made in the wake of New York’s incoming Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act (aka the Green Light Law), which prevents New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles from sharing any information with DHS.
According to Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, DHS needs access to DMV records to conduct law enforcement investigations, and to properly vet citizens interested in programs like Global Entry. Global Entry allows those deemed to be low-risk travelers to pass through customs without stopping to speak to an agent.
Wolf argues that DHS cannot evaluate the risk level of any New York applicant without DMV information, which includes criminal records. However, the decision seems to be at least partly punitive, with Wolf framing it as the consequences that New York must face for passing the Green Light Law. The reasoning also seems slightly disingenuous, insofar as criminal records are not stored solely with the DMV, and DHS is already using passports in conjunction with biometric screening to ensure that all applicants are indeed the people they claim to be.
The Trusted Traveler freeze will apply to new applicants and renewals. It is expected to affect as many as 200,000 New York residents and around 30,000 commercial truck drivers. New York has already indicated that it will sue the Trump Administration over the suspension.
The Global Entry program previously verified participants with a passport scan and fingerprint recognition, though U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that facial recognition will soon become the new standard. Facial recognition pilots have already been conducted at dozens of airports, beginning with Orlando in 2015 and continuing all the way through to 2020. The most recent pilot is now underway in Philadelphia.
February 7, 2020 – by Eric Weiss