Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with President Donald Trump in the White House Thursday to discuss the feds’ blocking of New Yorkers from programs that allow travelers quicker entry at the U.S. border.
Just hours after lobbing more insults at each other via media, the Democratic governor and Republican president met over their dispute regarding New York’s Green Light Law, which lets undocumented immigrants obtain state driver’s licenses while barring federal immigration agents from accessing state motor vehicle records.
The Trump administration has argued the cutoff from the records threatens public safety, and reacted with the ban of New Yorkers from enrolling in Global Entry and other “trusted traveler” programs. New York sued over the expulsion earlier this week.
Cuomo’s communications director, Dani Lever, stated that Trump indicated he wants to work with the governor on the issue and that he would follow up next week.
“Governor Cuomo restated the initial solution that he proposed to the DHS acting secretary last Thursday on our willingness to allow federal officials access to DMV records only for individuals applying to the Trusted Traveler Program,” Lever said.
“As the governor previously said, we believe DHS’s action was politically motivated and unwarranted as the FBI already has information regarding criminal records and TTP applicants already go through an extensive federal background check.”
The Associated Press reported that acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Trump and Cuomo held a “productive meeting.”
Wolf called the relationship between New York and Washington an important one but said it “has been made difficult by the unilateral actions of New York State regarding the sharing of critical security information with DHS.”
He said in a tweet that discussions with Cuomo’s administration would continue.
Ahead of the meeting the two leaders, who have a long history of acrimony, were still going at each other via media.
Trump tweeted that Cuomo “must understand that National Security far exceeds politics.”
“New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment, start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes. Build relationships, but don’t bring Fredo!” Trump said, tacking on a insult referring to Cuomo’s younger brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo.
The younger Cuomo has reacted furiously to the insult that suggests he is akin to the character Fredo Corleone, the disappointing middle son of Vito Corleone in “The Godfather” films.
Gov. Cuomo pledged earlier Thursday not to let federal immigration agents see lists of people who had applied for a new type of license that doesn’t require applicants to prove they are in the U.S. legally.
“If they think they’re going to extort New York into giving them a database of undocumented people, they’re wrong. I will never do that,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said he’s willing to restore federal access to driving records on a limited basis.
U.S. Rep. Tom Reed said Thursday he stands “ready to assist” as he encouraged Trump and Cuomo to resolve this matter as their public comments have indicated the matter.
Reed said that in discussions with New York officials, including Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, he has stressed New York must provide “complete, unfettered and real-time DMV data to Customs and Border Protection to keep our fellow New Yorkers and country safe.”
Reed said it’s not enough to review TTP applications — customs and border agents should have real-time access to DMV data.
State Sen. George Borrello, R-Chautauqua County, stated Thursday that New Yorkers and businesses “are the latest victims of One Party Rule and Democrats’ ill-conceived” Green Light Law.
“It is time for Gov. Cuomo to make law-abiding citizens a priority and fully fix the trusted traveler turmoil and restore full access to federal law enforcement dealing with immigration issues,” he said.
Thursday’s meeting between Trump and Cuomo was remarkable in that their relationship has been more and more bitter over the years, not least because of the parade of lawsuits New York has filed over Trump policies — and his personal business.
Last year, Trump accused New York officials of harassing businesses in the state in search of “anything at all they can find to make me look as bad as possible.”
AP noted that four months later, Trump announced that Florida would be his permanent residence after he leaves the White House, not New York.
Cuomo’s reply: “Good riddance. ... He’s all yours, Florida.”
The two have clashed on Trump’s income tax cuts, which imposed a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, hiking federal taxes for many homeowners in New York, and on New York’s ban on hydraulic fracturing.
The New York state attorney general’s office has sued the Trump administration on several fronts, from travel bans on certain Muslim nations, to environmental policies to immigration matters.
(Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.)