The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has barred residents of New York State from enrolling in or renewing membership in several “trusted traveler” programs including Global Entry. Specifically, the order covers four programs that expedite the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) entry process:
- Global Entry, which covers all entry by air, sea, and land
- NEXUS, covering land entry from Canada.
- SENTRI, covering land entry from Canada and Mexico
- FAST, which covers commercial truck entry
And while that might be a panic-inducing prospect for New Yorkers, there’s a few specifics they should know.
Travelers already enrolled can continue to use the programs; they can’t renew it. The new ruling does not affect enrollment in the TSA Pre-Check airport screening program, which comes with Global Entry but can also be acquired separately.
It also does not affect the ongoing nationwide program to limit driver’s licenses for use as valid airport identification to “Real ID” licenses. Real IDs are currently available in New York.
The stated reason for the ban is a New York law that took effect December 2020, which forbids the state’s DMV from providing residents’ driver’s license and registration information to federal authorities: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
According to DHS, its agencies need that information in order to assess the eligibility of applicants, and the New York DMV is the only source for some of the needed information. The letter from DHS to the New York Attorney General notes that the new law will “impede ICE’s objective of protecting the people of New York from menacing threats to national security and public safety.”
The ban is not based on verifying citizenship; it’s concerned with assessing an applicant’s risk status. And even holding a valid passport does not allow residents to avoid the ban (CBP has confirmed as much to SmarterTravel).
You probably haven’t heard the last of this; it’s a political issue that’s sure to be challenged. But for now, if you live in New York, you have no immediate recourse. For the time being, you won’t be able to renew your use of these trusted traveler expedited systems once membership expires.
And because the ban is in response to a state law, residents of other states are not affected.
Readers: Are you losing your ability to renew a Trusted Traveler program? Comment below.
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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuse every day at SmarterTravel.