Governor Andrew Cuomo recalibrated on Friday his approach to the ongoing freeze surrounding access to the trusted traveler program for New Yorkers, saying in a radio interview he would offer the full motor vehicle database, but without Social Security numbers.
The move, Cuomo said, would enable federal immigration authorities to have the information they are calling for, but prevent them from identifying undocumented immigrants who have driver's licenses, but no Social Security numbers.
"I would give them anything but the Social Security numbers," Cuomo said in an interview with WAMC. "The Social Security numbers are the indicator of who is documented or undocumented. I will never give them the Social Security numbers in the DMV database."
It's a shift from Cuomo's previously public position on the issue since last week: He had signaled to President Donald Trump he would be willing to offer DMV records on a case-by-case basis to those who are applying for trusted traveler programs, like Nexus and FAST, which allow for faster and easier passage through borders and ports.
The move would likely require a change to the state's law that allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses and bars the federal immigration authorities from accessing DMV records over concerns it would lead to targeted deportations.
It's not clear if the legislature, led by Democrats, would support the change.
The acting director of ICE, in Troy on Thursday, called that policy dangerous and said it has to change.
"The state law says we can't give them the DMV database," Cuomo said in the radio interview. "I said I will give to the FBI any criminal information, I will give them the global entry information, I will give them anything but the Social Security numbers. The Social Security numbers are the indicator of the documented, undocumented. I will never give them the information over my dead by body."
New York last week filed a lawsuit over the trusted traveler freeze.