Trump bans New Yorkers from TSA pre-check – other ‘sanctuary’ states and cities could be next


February 25, 2020

By Lew Jan Olowski

President Trump banned New Yorkers from certain TSA pre-check programs at airports. Your state could be next.

“New York residents will no longer be eligible to enroll or re-enroll in CBP’s [Customs and Border Protection] Trusted Traveler Programs,” said Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Wolf singled out Global Entry, NEXUS, Sentri, and FAST, each of which includes TSA pre-check line access at airports.

This comes in response to New York’s “sanctuary” law, designed to obstruct federal immigration enforcement. “I know other states are looking at laws like this,” said acting DHS deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli. “They should know that their citizens are going to lose the convenience of entering these Trusted Traveler Programs just as New York’s did.”

Nine other states also passed sanctuary laws, including Illinois and California. Many municipalities have such laws, too, from Baltimore and Boston to Boulder and Berkley.

Sanctuary laws prohibit local law enforcement from fully cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

Specifically, in New York, the recently-passed “Green Light Law” grants driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. It also prohibits state agencies from sharing information with federal authorities.

Consequently, the Green Light Law prevents DHS from accessing New York’s DMV records. This thwarts DHS’s authentication of Trusted Traveler applicants’ identities, vehicle ownership and other information used in the vetting process.

Hence New York’s expulsion from the Trusted Traveler Programs.

Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr announced new initiatives to enforce federal immigration law in sanctuary states. The Justice Department sued Seattle’s King County to allow deportation flights at its airport. That same day, it sued the state of New Jersey to allow information sharing between local police and federal immigration authorities.

On Feb. 12, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo personally pleaded with Trump to lift the Trusted Travel Programs ban on his state. No deal. Instead, Trump deployed “tactical units from the southern border as part of a supercharged arrest operation in sanctuary cities across the country.”

This impasse between federal authorities and sanctuary states is about more than just inconveniencing airport travelers and government lawyers. It is also about restoring basic principles of national security, rule of law and public safety.

Granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens facilitates their unlawful presence in the United States. Note that seven of the 9/11 terrorists obtained ID cards from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

On paper, the hijackers were merely students and tourists. So a red flag should have alerted authorities when some of these “students and tourists” overstayed their visas, causing their continued presence in the United States to be illegal.

State governments ought to turn illegal aliens over to federal immigration authorities. But, perversely, some sanctuary laws turn state employees into criminals, forcing them to commit federal crimes by effectively harboring illegal aliens from federal law enforcement.

Many Democrats oppose these laws, including Mickey Kearns, a county clerk who is suing Cuomo in federal court to stop the Green Light Law.

Other sanctuary laws prohibit local authorities from transferring known criminals into federal custody. Authorities instead release them onto the streets. This includes thousands accused of homicide, sexual assault and other violent crimes.

In some sanctuary cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, prosecutors even treat alien criminals better than they treat U.S. citizens. Prosecutors under-charge crimes and minimize criminal sentences just to prevent federally mandated deportation.

Consequently, Barr said the Justice Department is “meticulously reviewing the actions of certain district attorneys who have adopted policies of charging foreign nationals with lesser offenses for the express purpose of avoiding the federal immigration consequences of those nationals’ criminal conduct.” Barr said “these district attorneys are systematically violating the rule of law and may even be unlawfully discriminating against American citizens.”

Ideally, sanctuary laws would encourage immigrants’ cooperation with local police, facilitating witness testimony and victim reporting. In theory, these laws should increase the prosecution of violent crimes, vice crimes and property crimes.

But, in practice, sanctuary laws delay the deportation of actual criminals, enabling recidivism.

State and local officials may disagree with the details of federal immigration policy. Nonetheless, they should fulfill their own responsibilities toward safety, law, and order.

At least if they want their residents to stay in the TSA pre-check line.

Lew Jan Olowski is staff counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.

Also published at: Lew J. Olowski, Trump bans New Yorkers from TSA pre-check – other ‘sanctuary’ states and cities could be next,, February 23, 2020.

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