The United States Customs and Border Protection agency is voicing concerns about New York State’s new Green Light Law.
The law, which went into effect Monday, allows for undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses but it also greatly restricts information the Department of Motor Vehicles can share with federal law enforcement. CBP said it relies heavily on cooperation from its state and local partners to protect the public.
“This state law is detrimental to both CBP’s relationship with the state of New York as well as to the safety of the public and our personnel,” a CBP official said.
The agency said there has been a long-standing, established process to share data for valid criminal justice purposes. The changes under the Green Light Law, it said creates “significant vulnerabilities” as it eliminates agents’ abilities to have advanced information on a vehicle and its owner prior to a vehicle stop and at ports of entry.
New York State shares a border with Canada and Western New York in particular has heavily trafficked ports in Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
“We are still assessing the full impact of the change however, it puts both the public and our personnel in unnecessary danger,” the official said.
The information restrictions are meant to assuage fears the federal government would utilize the driver’s license applications to find and deport people in the country illegally.
“Under the Green Light Law, no DMV data of any kind can be shared with an agency that primarily enforces immigration law, which means ICE, Customs & Border Protection and Citizenship and Immigration Services do not have access to data unless the DMV is presented with a valid judge-signed court order, subpoena or judicial warrant,” DMV spokesperson Lisa Koumjian said.