Global Entry Ban: Cuomo Offers Compromise to Trump on N.Y. Applicants

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday that he would seek to give federal officials access to state driving records for applicants to Global Entry and other federal programs that allow travelers to quickly pass through airports and borders.

The announcement by Mr. Cuomo comes days after federal officials banned New York residents from applying to — and re-enrolling in — the programs, known as the Trusted Traveler Program.

The governor made the announcement during a radio interview on Wednesday morning, in which he also said he would meet with President Trump on Thursday to discuss the traveler programs and access to the driving records.

Administration officials stressed that the potential change would only include applicants to Trusted Traveler programs, such as Global Entry, not carte-blanche access to State Department of Motor Vehicle records.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security announced the ban, citing its inability to access those records as the reason. The move caused a furious reaction from Mr. Cuomo and a lawsuit challenging the federal action from the state attorney general, Letitia James.

The conflict over the Trusted Traveler Program stems from a 2019 law, often known as the Green Light law, that allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses and forbade federal officials from accessing state Department of Motor Vehicles records without a court order.

Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, said on Wednesday that he believed federal authorities were using the Trusted Traveler issue as a feint, and that their real motive was to use the database to seek out undocumented immigrants.

“I think that’s what they really want,” he said. “They want access to the undocumented.”

Cuomo administration officials said that the governor would attempt to make the change via new legislation in the state budget or a separate bill, meaning that most likely the change in state policy would not take effect until April at the earliest.

Mr. Cuomo insisted that he was not acquiescing to President Trump, saying that he would “never” give federal authorities unfettered access to Department of Motor Vehicles databases, something some other states do.

But if the Global Entry freeze continued, he said, it would have a “dramatic effect on this state and border crossings.”

The White House confirmed the meeting between the president and Mr. Cuomo, but would not comment on its substance. Previously, federal officials have been forceful in condemning New York’s Green Light law, presenting it as a threat to national security.

Mr. Cuomo said that his vision for the new policy would involve evaluating federal requests for information on “a case-by-case basis,” a potentially daunting task for a program with tens of thousands of applicants currently pending.

The shift on Global Entry is just the latest possible alteration to a robust progressive agenda passed last year by Democrats in Albany, who had seized a legislative monopoly after nearly a decade of Republican rule in the State Senate.

But several of those policies, including a reform to the state’s bail laws, have sparked strong blowback and raised the specter of political losses in this year’s elections, particularly in moderate districts in New York City’s suburbs.

In the radio interview, Mr. Cuomo insisted that Mr. Trump was “playing politics” and catering to supporters who favored his hard-line approach on immigration. State Republicans took issue with that characterization and blamed Democrats for prioritizing progressive goals over public safety.

Rob Ortt, a conservative state senator from the Buffalo area, commented on Twitter, “Pure politics is passing laws that prioritize illegal aliens over law-abiding citizens and law enforcement officials to score political points with a far-left base.”