Republican lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly on Monday met privately with officials from the Department of Homeland Security, who aired concerns over acccess to the state's motor vehicle database.
Access to that database by entities like ICE is blocked by the state's Green Light Law, which allows undocumented immigrants to receive driver's licenses over concerns they would be targeted by federal immigration enforcement.
The meeting was brokered by Republican Rep. Tom Reed, who echoed officials in the Trump administration that the issue is about security.
"These are qualified law enforcement officers who have spent decades in these positions," Reed said in an interview. "What they've learned is the lesson of 9/11. You know, 9/11 should never be forgotten, especially in the state of New York. We're going back to a fragemented, pre-9/11 mindset where you don't share that information."
The controversy has spilled into the trusted traveler programs, which allow for easier passage over borders and into ports. Reed did not rule out other programs, like TSA Pre-Check, would ultimately be affected as well.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, has maintained the issue is about targeting New York and exacting leverage over the state to give up the database.
"You have a theory by which we're interfering with criminal enforcement? Explain it to me. I don't see any theory of it," he said at a news conference.
Cuomo has vowed to not provide the federal government with any information that would allow them to find undocumented immigrants. He's floated various compromises, which have not been accepted.
"You can't use our database for those issues," Cuomo said.
Meanwhile, the governor also acknowledged -- in a some joking fashion -- that he doesn't have leverage over the federal government in this instance.
"I have rightousness, justice, principle, democracy on my side," he said with a smile. "But no leverage."