ICE chief learns New York still gives Canada database access while denying it to his agency
The acting ICE chief is mad at the state of New York.
While that’s nothing new, especially since the state shut Customs and Immigration enforcement out of its drivers’ license database in January. But now Acting ICE Director Matt Albence has discovered that Canada still has access to the New York database.
“Information is the lifeblood of law enforcement. If we learned anything from 9/11 it’s that information needs to be shared quickly and fully, and what this has done is to roll back the clock,” Albence told Fox News in an interview Friday. “This is a pre-9/11 mentality in a post-9/11 world and it’s dangerous.”
Albence has been warning about the dangers of New York’s so-called “Green Light Law” that has the primary goal of granting drivers’ licenses to illegals in the state. The law, however, goes further than other state licensing laws with a similar goal to grant driving privileges to illegals. It ordered state agencies not to cooperate with federal CBP and ICE officers, suspending the federal government’s access to the driving database.
After it went into effect, the U.S. government barred New York identification from the “Real ID” program, a nationwide effort to allow state drivers’ license bureaus to “pre-clear” for travel and security purposes all American drivers who choose to take part.
New York police and sheriff’s associations have also been angered by the law. It requires them to sign non-disclosure agreements with the state so they can’t share the information ICE and Customers and Border Patrol (CBP) seek.
He argued that illegal and undocumented immigrants in the country can provide up to 600 different types of documentation to obtain a driver's license.
"So, it also puts the onus on motor vehicle clerks across the state to try to verify these documents when -- oftentimes -- and especially in this day and age with technology, fraudulent documentation is very easy to obtain."
The Trump administration responded to the Green Light Law by suspending Global Entry and similar Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) for New York residents, citing security concerns. New York State Attorney General Letitia James has sued DHS, alleging “political retribution” from the administration. Meanwhile, House Democrats have written to DHS demanding documents relating to the decision and slamming it as a “senseless, retaliatory” move.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week he’d be prepared to come to a deal, but ruled out giving over Social Security numbers to DHS.
"The Social Security numbers are the indicator of documented or undocumented," Cuomo said in a radio interview. "I will never give them the Social Security numbers in the DMV database. Over my dead body will I do that."
Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf has called the proposal "promising." Albence says it’s something that he’d be open to because ICE and other agencies don’t need Social Security numbers, and are just asking for New York to share the data such as registrations and drivers’ licenses.
"If the governor wants to actually make good on that proposal we’re ready to listen and sit down, but he made the comments in a radio interview and I've not heard anything since,” he said.
Until such an agreement can be forged, law enforcement agencies are worried about officers going into dangerous situations blind and without crucial information. Being able to run plates and obtain other information can help agents and officers scope out a potentially dangerous situation.
Albence gave the example of an undercover agent scoping out a potential drug deal and wanting to run the plates of cars that have turned up. If those plates are New York plates, they won't have that information.