Cuomo says DHS officials have 'possible criminal liability' over Global Entry ban
Posted July 24, 2020 12:49 p.m. EDT
CNN — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday ripped into the Department of Homeland Security, excoriating its top officials a day after the department admitted that it made false statements in defense of denying New Yorkers from participating in the Trusted Traveler Program.
Cuomo, a Democrat, said both acting Secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, violated their oaths of office by participating in the effort, arguing the top officials have "possible criminal liability."
"You are the Department of Homeland Security. Is it plausible that you didn't know what the laws were in this nation? No. They got caught. It was all politics, all the time. It was all exploitation, all the time. And they hurt this state because of it," Cuomo said at a press conference. "You cannot use government for political exploitation."
He continued, "It is illegal what they did. And I believe it violates acting Secretary (Chad) Wolf and acting Deputy (Ken) Cuccinelli -- they violated their oath of office ... I believe Mr. Wolf and Mr. Cuccinelli have possible criminal liability. I believe there is civil liability."
CNN has reached out to DHS for comment on Cuomo's remarks.
The department admitted on Thursday that it made false statements to defend a decision earlier this year to block New York residents from participating in Trusted Traveler Programs, including Global Entry. The admission in a court filing came on the same day DHS announced it will allow state residents to participate in the program again.
The department had blocked New Yorkers from the program over provisions in a state law protecting the information of undocumented immigrants applying for driver's licenses to be shared with federal immigration enforcement agencies.
However, several other states, whose residents are able to participate in the Trusted Traveler Programs -- which expedite service for preapproved travelers entering the US -- do not currently provide federal authorities with full access to applicants' driving history, the court filing notes.
"It is impossible that the Department of Homeland Security just figured that out yesterday afternoon ... everybody knew there were other states with Green Light laws," Cuomo said, referring to the state law that DHS used to justify its decision to block New Yorkers from participating in the program.
"What happened yesterday is they got caught," the governor said. "They got caught. That's what happened yesterday."
The federal government's move in February to ban New Yorkers from the programs came at a time when President Donald Trump was railing against efforts by Democratic officials to limit cooperation between local and state law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.