House lawmakers have launched an investigation into the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to block New York from Trusted Travelers programs, The Hill reported Saturday.
The DHS announced Thursday that it would restore New York to the popular programs, which expedite travelers through security checkpoints at airports.
But the lawmakers said the agency had unfairly targeted and misled the state when it barred New York from participating earlier this year — in retaliation over the state’s “Green Light” law, which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mo.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) said in announcing the probe that it appears DHS officials “made false statements” in attempting to justify the earlier decision to bar the state from the program.
“The decision to exclude New York from Trusted Traveler programs always appeared to be political retribution and now we know it was,” Thompson and Rice said in a statement reported by The Hill.
DHS removed New York from the program in February, citing the Green Light law’s language that blocked DHS from accessing information from the DMV unless it received a judge’s approval.
The department argued in court and in front of Congress that no other state had such document restrictions and only restored New York’s Trusted Travelers privileges after it had amended the bill to make access to the Department of Motor Vehicle records easier.
But the DHS admitted in court documents this week that it was incorrect when it argued no other states has such DMV record restrictions in place, according to The Hill.
“It appears DHS officials made false statements to Congress — an intolerable turn of events for a Department charged with enforcing federal law,” the lawmakers continued in their statement.
“Through our investigation, we will seek to understand why this happened and determine who is responsible.”
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