New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Calls Suspension of Global Entry 'Ham-Handed Political Tactic' by Trump Administration, Plans to Sue

Human Rights Campaign's 19th Annual Greater New York Gala
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks onstage during the Human Rights Campaign's 19th Annual Greater New York Gala at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on February 01, 2020 in New York City. Gary Gershoff/Getty

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a high-profile political foe of President Donald Trump, announced his intent to sue the Trump administration over the suspension of expedited travel programs for New York residents.

Announced on Friday, the decision came after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) informed New York officials that it would no longer permit residents to enroll (or re-enroll) in its Global Entry program, which provides fast-track security screening at airports for paying members.

"What they're now doing to make political hay, to advance their political argument, is they take the Department of Homeland Security in an abuse of power [and] a hyper-politicalized use of government," Cuomo said at a press conference Friday.

The department's announcement was the result, it says, of New York's Green Light law, which prevents DHS officers from accessing the state's DMV database to verify enrollment information of applicants. New York enacted the law in order to provide the option of obtaining driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, and forbade DHS from obtaining DMV data without a court order.

In his remarks, Cuomo described the move as a "ham-handed political tactic," not one born of necessity.

DHS says it needs the state's DMV information to know whether an applicant "meets program eligibility requirements." However, the governor said that the FBI possesses all of the information in New York's DMV database and instructed DHS to ask the bureau instead.

"There is supposed to be a line between politics and government. You're not supposed to be using government as a political tool," he added. "You can't then use the government to come up with an arbitrary policy that hurts hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to make your political point. You can't do that. It's an abuse of power. It is extortion."

Nodding to the president's recent decision to change his permanent address to his home in Florida, Attorney General Letitia James called the move a "shortsighted crusade against his former home."

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment about New York's plans to sue.

The attorney general of New York is already locked in numerous fights with Trump over various administration policies. Most recently, James' office announced lawsuits challenging rules that could hamper access to insurance coverage for abortions and rollbacks of Obama-era chemical storage regulations.

"As the state's attorney and chief law enforcement officer, I will continue to vigorously defend New York laws and our state's residents against the president's vindictive actions," James said after the Global Entry policy was announced. "New Yorkers will not be targeted or bullied by an authoritarian thug."