Governor Andrew Cuomo's White House meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday to discuss the federal government's attempts to obtain New York's Department of Motor Vehicles data for immigration investigations has resulted in...a promise to follow up next week.
In what critics called retaliation against New York for allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for drivers' licenses, the federal Department of Homeland Security last week announced that New Yorkers would no longer be able to apply or re-enroll in trusted traveler programs (TTP) such as Global Entry that allow pre-screened participants faster security clearance at airports and borders.
The DHS said its Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency needs the state DMV records for immigration investigations, while Cuomo has said the records would only be used so that "ICE can have a feeding frenzy assaulting undocumented people." On Wednesday, Cuomo offered to allow ICE to have access to the data of applicants to the trusted traveler programs -- unlikely to be undocumented immigrants given the detailed background checks they undergo.
After the White House meeting, Cuomo's communications director Dani Lever issued this statement:
"Governor Cuomo restated the initial solution that he proposed to the DHS Acting Secretary last Thursday on our willingness to allow federal officials access to DMV records only for individuals applying to the Trusted Traveler Program. As the Governor previously said, we believe DHS's action was politically motivated and unwarranted as the FBI already has information regarding criminal records and TTP applicants already go through an extensive federal background check. The President said that this is an issue he wants to work on and that he would follow up with the Governor next week."
In a statement, DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said the meeting was "productive."
"New York is the only State that restricts CBP access to their data across the board – for law enforcement, customs, trade and travel facilitation purposes. Despite that, we will continue discussions with the State of New York to find a mutually agreeable solution," Wolf said.
Meanwhile, state Attorney General Letitia James has sued the Trump Administration, accusing the federal government of violating New Yorkers' right to equal protection and equal state sovereignty under the U.S. Constitution.
There are more than a dozen states with laws similar to New York that grant undocumented immigrants drivers' licenses. This week, the federal Department of Justice announced it is suing California, New Jersey and King County in Washington State over measures that limit the ability of ICE to carry out detentions and deportations.
Cuomo said the fact that the DHS wants more than the data of TTP applicants is revealing of its true motivations.
"I gave you what you asked for...New York State will give the data for anyone who applies for TTP. I agree. I agree. I give up. I agree," Cuomo said during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe Thursday morning ahead of the meeting with Trump. "They still insist on stopping the TTP and again this is not my supposition. There is a memo, a document from the Department of Homeland Security that says we must punish these states" who do not comply with the Trump administration.
"This is about their politics," Cuomo added. "There is no logical governmental point."