Politics

New York Law Enforcement Community Comes Out Against ‘Green Light’ Law

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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  • Several U.S. district attorneys in New York and two major law enforcement unions have come out in full support of DHS in its fight with the state’s “Green Light” law. 
  • The law forbids information sharing between state DMVs and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), making verification for trusted traveler programs difficult. 
  • Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed the bill into law, is set to meet President Donald Trump on a possible compromise. 

Two major law enforcement unions and numerous U.S. district attorneys in New York are publicly opposing the state’s “Green Light” law, which forbids information sharing between DMVs and federal immigration authorities.

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA); the New York Association of Chiefs of Police; and the Western, Southern, Eastern, and Northern Districts of New York’s U.S. Attorney’s Office have released public statements against a newly implemented law that allows illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses and prohibits information sharing between immigration agencies and state DMVs.

Public letters, obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation, also offer support to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is currently fighting a public relations war with New York’s political leaders.

“As our nation’s largest non-partisan professional association representing federal law enforcement officers, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association opposed this law from inception and continues to do so,” read a FLEOA letter addressed to DHS acting Secretary Chad Wolf, delivered Wednesday. “We view this law as creating an obstacle to law enforcement cooperation, which will only further the crime rate increases the state is already experiencing.”

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FLEO, which touts 28,000 members across 65 federal law enforcement agencies, also invoked the memory of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — showcasing the need for federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to work together to protect the communities they serve.

“That response and the thousands of others by federal agencies to help support the state of New York during its times of trial were clearly forgotten when the state passed this offensive law that communicates a contempt for the federal government and the federal law enforcement officers working everyday to keep New York safe,” FLEOA National President Larry Cosme wrote in the letter.

Signed into law in late 2019 by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state’s “Green Light” law went into effect in December of that year. Specifically, the law forbids DMVs from sharing pertinent information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) — two agencies under DHS that enforce the country’s immigration laws.

The rule poses a problem for immigration authorities because they can no longer verify if an individual in the state has a DUI or aggravated driving record — information that can only be obtained by DMV data. DHS said it had no choice but to suspend New Yorkers applications for several trusted traveler programs because this information was necessary for the qualification process.

The decision to suspend these applications have immense ramifications for New York travelers — impacting hundreds of thousands of people every year who wish to renew or apply for the programs.

Many law enforcement officials are in full support of the department’s actions.

“Our members fully recognize that sharing pertinent law enforcement information and vital resources across local, state and federal boundaries is critical to ensuring the safety of the communities we serve. It is our hope that reasonableness will prevail by all involved and that an appropriate resolution can be attained,” the president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, Patrick Phelan, wrote in a statement Monday.

Additionally, four U.S. district attorneys in the state signed onto a letter that broke down how the law inhibits border agents from doing their job and suggested the rules were “disturbing”

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pictured. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“The Green Light Law impedes Homeland Security’s ability to conduct active criminal investigations involving citizens and non-citizens who are lawfully present in the United States, not just those who are undocumented,” the attorneys said in joint public statement Monday.

“The disturbing truth is that under the newly enacted statute, the Customs and Border Protection Officers working today at New York’s 13 ports of entry — which include both the busiest port on the entire northern border of the United States (the longest land border in the world), and the busiest international air passenger gateway into North America — are unable even to check the registration or the driver’s license status of individuals presenting themselves for admission into our country,” the attorneys said.

The strong public statements come as Cuomo is set to meet with President Donald Trump on Thursday to discuss a possible compromise. The New York governor indicated that he is willing to back down slightly from the law’s ramifications, telling local media that he can allow information sharing on a case-by-case basis.

However, that may not suffice concerns with DHS. CBP “requires full access to DMV data to fulfill their law enforcement, customs, and trade and travel statutory responsibilities,” a spokeswoman for the department said in a statement to the DCNF on Thursday. (RELATED: Virginia Lawmakers Vote To Allow Illegal Aliens To Obtain Driver’s Licenses)

“It remains our goal to get back to a place where NY is once again sharing critical law enforcement data with CBP,” said DHS spokeswoman Heather Swift.

Update:

The New York State Sheriffs’ Association called the “Green Light” law “unwise” and “offensive” for its hamstringing of law enforcement to carry out public safety efforts in a letter addressed to Cuomo and state lawmakers Thursday.

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