How the state of New York impairs homeland security to protect illegal aliens

New York state's top officials have filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s move to block New York residents from DHS Trusted Traveler Programs, which allow travelers to avoid long security lines at international airports and borders.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York accuses the federal government of intending to punish New York state for enacting the “Green Light Law”, which lets illegal aliens get drivers licenses and bars any agency that enforces immigration law from accessing state Department of Motor Vehicle records.

On Monday, the four U.S. Attorneys in New York issued a press release titled Reconsidering the Green Light that Stops Law Enforcement. The statement explains the broad, adverse effects of the provision on law enforcement and public safety.

Agents and officers of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which includes ICE Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Border Patrol, and ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, use DMV information on a daily basis to assist them in fighting transnational criminal organizations, cybercrime, violent criminal offenses, racketeering and extortion, the illegal use and possession of firearms, economic espionage, various types of fraud, human trafficking, and child exploitation — as well as illegal immigration.

DHS agents seek New York State DMV information for a variety of purposes, including:

  • To obtain identification, address, and vehicle registration information for individuals committing crimes.
  • To identify and apprehend dangerous defendants and fugitives wanted by state or federal authorities.
  • To conduct surveillance of individuals suspected or known to be engaged in the commission of crimes.
  • To establish the probable cause necessary to secure search and arrest warrants.
  • To identify crime victims and potential crime victims.
  • To identify the proceeds of crime to increase the amount of restitution recoverable for crime victims.
  • To make informed determinations regarding whether, when, where, and how to stop a vehicle, to minimize the risk to occupants, officers, and others.
  • To assist in determining whether to grant individuals presenting themselves at ports of entry admission into the United States.

Under the “Green Light Law”, Customs and Border Protection officers at New York’s 13 ports of entry are unable to check the registration or the driver’s license status of individuals presenting themselves for admission to the U.S. Forcing officers who serve as our frontline defense against dangerous criminals to make these important determinations in the dark dramatically diminishes public safety.

Ensuring that ICE Homeland Security Investigations agents and Enforcement and Removal Operations officers must blindly interact with people who may be terrorists or other violent criminals poses a grave risk to the safety of the officer, the person, and the public. In most instances, there simply is no time to pause for the time needed to obtain a court order, judicial warrant, or subpoena.

Prohibiting basic information sharing between New York State and federal agencies means that more criminals will enter and roam freely, undermines cooperative relationships between law enforcement agencies at the different levels of government, thwarts investigations into serious crimes, and jeopardizes public safety throughout our great country.