Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday blasted the Trump administration's since-withdrawn effort to freeze access to trusted traveler programs for New Yorkers over the Green Light law after the Department of Justice acknowledged the opposition to the measure had been based on misstatements and falsehoods about the measure.
And Cuomo, who raised the possibility of legal action over the episode, suggested the dispute could have led to longer lines at aiports in New York, leading to a faster spread of coronavirus in the process.
"You can't play politics with government. You can't use the Department of Justice as a political tool," Cuomo said during a news conference in Albany. "You can't use the Department of Homeland Security as a political tool. It doesn't work that way. And it's not just not right and unethical and immoral. It's illegal."
The federal government earlier this year moved to block New Yorkers from applying for trusted traveler and global entry programs that make it easier to cross borders for frequent travelers. At the time, the Department of Homeland Security pointed to the state's new law that allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for and receive driver's licenses.
Federal officials at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and Customs and Border Patrol argued the law restricted access to the Department of Motor Vehicles database, which made it difficult to run background checks.
State lawmakers and Cuomo in March ultimately agreed to a change in the law that allowed DMV records acccess on a limited basis.
On Thursday, the Department of Justice acknowledged the Department of Homeland Security had overstated its claims about the New York law, including how unique it was compared to other states as well as the security risk it posed.
"They got caught," Cuomo said, casting doubt on whether federal officials had only recently realized the error.
"It is illegal what they did and I believe it violates -- acting secretary Wolf and acting deputy Cuccinelli -- they violated their oath of office," Cuomo said.