The state of New York on February 10 filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York arguing that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when they blocked New York residents from participating in Trusted Traveler programs (TTPs). The lawsuit claims in part that the agencies did not follow the rulemaking procedures required by the APA when they excluded New York residents from the programs.
DHS informed New York officials on February 5 that residents of New York were no longer eligible to participate in TTPs, which allow travelers to use faster screening lanes at airports and at international borders. The federal agencies acted in response to a 2019 New York law, known as the Green Light Law, that allows people in the United States without legal permission to apply for New York drivers licenses. The legislation “restricts CBP’s access to certain criminal history information maintained by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles,” according to a CBP press release.
New York Attorney General Letitia James argues in the lawsuit that the “new policy is a punitive measure intended to single out New York and coerce the state into changing its policies to compel conformity with preferred federal policies,” according to a press release. The lawsuit further claims that the policy is a rule that should have had a public notice and comment period before going into effect.
The APA specifies procedures for agencies to follow when they issue a new rule. Under the APA’s informal rulemaking process, agencies must publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the _Federal Register_, provide a comment period to allow interested members of the public to weigh in on the new rule, and publish a final rule in the _Federal Register_ 30 days before it goes into effect.
New York Attorney General Press Release: