U.S. Rep. Tom Reed said weeks ago he planned to share his concerns over New York’s Green Light law with officials at the Department of Homeland Security.
The Corning Republican said the law that allows undocumented immigrants to obtain New York driver’s licenses represents a security concern for federal agencies and evokes memories of the the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes.
In his weekly media call, Reed told reporters he spent last weekend talking about Homeland Security’s decision to phase out the Trusted Traveler program in New York over the state’s refusal to share its driver’s license database.
Reed said he also spoke directly with President Donald Trump over the issue.
Reed said he had not read a news story detailing how the Department of Homeland Security planned to punish New York for refusing to allow Customs and Border Patrol access to its driver’s license database under the Green Light law. The story said DHS was looking for the best ways to punish New York.
Homeland Security settled on ending New York’s Trusted Traveler program that allowed qualified applicants to use a special border crossing lanes.
The government announced last week that the program would not take any new New York applications or renew existing ones that are good for five years. It was the fifth of eight options Homeland Security considered.
Reed said he spoke recently with Homeland Security officials to express his concern with the threat of the Green Light where undocumented immigrants can get special driver’s licenses.
Did Reed have a role in the recent rollout of the new policy?
“If you believe that with a phone call we could direct Homeland Security” to take this action…” Reed replied when asked if he was aware of all the options the government was considering to penalize New York for its Green Light law.
Reed said other than repealing the controversial Green Light law, New York could repeal the portion of the law that prohibits the New York Department of Motor Vehicles to share license information with Customs and Border Patrol.
Reed made the distinction between Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“That’s why the New York state action was taken and only New York is impacted,” he said.
The congressman said New York is the only state not to share its driver’s license database with the Customs and Border Patrol as well as ICE.
“Yes, New York did adopt illegal immigrants driver’s licenses,” Reed said. “Then they went further and restricted sharing of information from the DMV to Border Security. We are the only state that restricts that. The governor wants to get as progressive and as hard left in the nation as possible.”
Reed urged state lawmakers to take action as soon as possible to make sure that the Trusted Travel program is not suspended.
“We are going to find a solution to this,” Reed declared. “What I am hearing from the governor is that he wants to play politics with this. The only solution,” he said “is to repeal the Green Light law. That’s something I would like to see Albany do.”
Reed added: “This is about what’s right to protect America, to protect New Yorkers. I talked to the president on Saturday to see what we could do and protect our security interests.”
Reed said he was “still digesting” the 2021 budget proposal from the president and what the cuts would mean for the 23rd Congressional District.
Medicaid block grants to states would put pressure on the health care program for the poor and elderly, Reed said. The block grants, which Congress has rejected in the past, would push away from the fee for services model, Reed said. It would cap Medicaid spending.
It also comes at a time when New York state is experiencing a deficit in its Medicaid program and is looking to spread future increases back to the counties.
On another topic, Reed declined to comment on the White House decision to fire Lt. Col Alexander Vindman and escort him from his National Security office last week. Vindman was among the officials testifying during the House impeachment hearings last year.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)