New York state residents can again participate in the U.S. Homeland Security Department’s Trusted Traveler Programs after the federal government admitted the reason they were excluded turned out to be wrong.
U.S. lawyers told a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday that they had been relying on false or incomplete information in defending the department’s February decision to bar New York residents from the programs, which allow travelers to avoid long lines at security checks and immigration controls at airports.
The U.S. withdrew its motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging its decision and said New Yorkers would have access to the programs effective immediately.
It turned out that New York’s “Green Light Law,” which restricts federal agencies’ access to certain data maintained by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, and which was cited as the reason to exclude New Yorkers from the program, wasn’t unique. Other states also don’t share information such as a person’s driving-related criminal history and that hasn’t stopped the Department of Homeland Security from allowing residents in those states from participating in the program, according to the government.
“The Trump Administration backing down and restoring Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs to New Yorkers is a victory for travelers, workers, commerce, and our state’s economy,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “This policy was political retribution, plain and simple, which is why we filed our lawsuit to stop the president from targeting and punishing New Yorkers in the first place.”
The lawyers with the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said in their letter to the judge that they deeply regretted the inaccurate or misleading information and apologized to both the court and the New York plaintiffs for the need to correct their position.
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