The Department of Homeland Security said it would once again allow New York state residents to sign up for the popular fast-track Global Entry programme, after expelling the state from the scheme in February as part of a row about undocumented migrants.
Global Entry, which allows travellers that have been preapproved by the US Customs and Border Protection service an expedited arrival through automatic kiosks at US airports, has been a boon to frequent international flyers. The suspension had affected more than 250,000 New York residents, according to Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of US citizenship and immigration services.
The ban came in response to a New York law making it possible for undocumented migrants to get state driving licences, while also shielding the licence information from federal immigration authorities.
DHS said at the time that it had suspended New Yorkers because it could not carry out proper background checks on applicants without access to information held by the driving authorities.
The department on Thursday said the ban had been lifted because New York had agreed to share driving licence records “as necessary” to facilitate acceptance into trusted traveller schemes, although it also criticised the state for continuing to bar the sharing of information with immigration authorities.
The ban had been widely condemned by New York officials, and led to a lawsuit being filed by state attorney-general Letitia James accusing the administration of unfairly singling out New Yorkers when 13 other states and the District of Columbia had passed similar laws.
Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, in February decried the ban as a partisan move by Donald Trump’s administration “for refusing to fall in line with their dangerous and divisive agenda” on immigration.
The Trump administration has recently launched a new wave of restrictions on undocumented migrants, legal immigrants, non-immigrant workers on temporary visas and foreign students.
And, on Tuesday, the president signed an executive order barring people in the US illegally from being counted when congressional districts are drawn up, a move that would reduce the political influence of areas with high numbers of undocumented immigrants.