New York state has sued the administration of United States President Donald Trump‘s in an attempt to void a policy barring hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers from enrolling in federal programmes that help travellers speed through airport security lines and borders, charging the ban is political punishment for the state’s immigrant-friendly policies.
The administration imposed the rule last week, citing as justification New York’s passage last year of a so-called “Green Light” law, which allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licences and limits federal immigration authorities from accessing records from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
State officials said banning New Yorkers from the travel programmes would undermine public safety and cause economic harm by slowing travel.
The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, said the administration’s action violated the US Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and equal sovereignty among states and its prohibition on federal coercion.
It marked the latest front in political fighting between Democratic-controlled New York and Trump, a Republican born and raised in the state.
A US Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
The Department of Homeland Security policy banned New Yorkers from joining or renewing their participation in so-called “Trusted Traveler” programmes. These include Global Entry and three other programmes that allow faster travel between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
New York said the ban would prohibit 175,000 New Yorkers whose membership in Trusted Traveler programmes expires this year from re-enrolling, and would “cut off” 80,000 New Yorkers with pending applications.
The state called the ban a “punitive measure intended to coerce New York into changing its policies”.
It also said the ban “will make all travellers less safe” by diverting customs and border officers from focusing on higher-risk travellers, and cost millions of dollars by delaying international business and cross-border travel.
“Congested lines at New York’s airports and border crossings will strain resources at the border and undermine safety for all travelers,” the lawsuit said.
“New York’s economy will suffer as wait times at border crossings increases, employers doing global business are placed at a competitive disadvantage, and residents who rely on cross-border travel lose access to these programmes,” it added.
State officials said on Friday that 13 other states and the District of Columbia also have Green Light laws, but only New York was targeted.
Trump has made tougher immigration policies a centrepiece of his presidency and re-election campaign.
The president has faulted New York and others he deems “sanctuary jurisdictions” for limiting information-sharing between local law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities.