ALBANY, N.Y. — A furious Gov. Andrew Cuomo ripped into federal authorities Friday, accusing top Trump administration officials of abuse of power over a dropped lawsuit involving expedited programs.
The governor called for heads to roll a day after the Department of Homeland Security announced it was lifting restrictions barring New Yorkers from participating in certain federal programs providing expedited reentry to the U.S.
“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, referencing acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy Ken Cuccinelli.
After dropping its ban Thursday, DHS admitted it made false and misleading statements in a lawsuit about which states share information from DMV databases with immigration authorities.
“They lied and they did a lot of damage,” Cuomo said, adding that the state could seek damages.
Separately, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is sending a letter to the DHS Inspector General calling for a full investigation into the matter.
The conflict began back in February when DHS officials barred New Yorkers from participating in “trusted traveler programs” over a state law granting undocumented immigrants access to drivers’ licenses and preventing federal immigration authorities from obtaining state DMV records.
At the time, DHS said roughly 175,000 New York residents could lose their trusted traveler status by the end of the year as their credentials expired.
Federal authorities feds said the change was made Thursday because New York amended the so-called “Green Light Law” to allow immigration authorities access to information on applicants for the programs, which give preapproved travelers expedited clearance when arriving at airports or border crossings.
Lawmakers amended the license law, which went into effect in December, in the state budget back in April — also making it a felony for any law enforcement officer to share DMV records with any agency in charge of immigration, such as Customs and Border Protection.
“It has been six months since they started this political exploitation,” Cuomo said Friday, questioning how it could be possible for federal authorities to not “know the laws of this nation.”
“It is illegal what they did,” he added, drawing a connection between long lines at area airports as the coronavirus pandemic became a concern in March and calling on Congress to investigate the issue.
“This is really egregious,” he said. “It was a clear abuse of power for political purposes.”
Attorney General Letitia James, who led the legal charge against the federal traveler program mishap, announced Friday that the state is also suing the federal government over Trump’s attempts to prevent congressional districts from being influenced by counts of undocumented persons in the census.
©2020 New York Daily News
Visit New York Daily News at www.nydailynews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.