LETTER TO THE EDITOR from JENNIFER HILL
To the Editor:
According to the Department of Homeland Security and the Feb. 13-14 editorial, “’Green Light’ Bad Law,” the only thing keeping undocumented workers from launching a 9/11-type attack is not having drivers’ licenses. Who knew? Be very, very afraid now that New York State’s Green Light Law allows people who pick and deliver apples to our stores and clean our buildings for sub-minimum wages can get drivers’ licenses.
Homeland Security’s Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli told reporters on Feb. 10 the 9/11 terrorists had obtained drivers’ licenses in several states (not New York) “to help accomplish their evil mission.” It was a laughable attempt to justify President Trump’s banning New York State from using Trusted Traveler programs, which allow preapproved individuals expedited passage through airport security and immigration, because New York’s law has a provision that prevents ICE from accessing its DMV data.
Never mind the provision allows “federal officials to demand identification, photos, passport data and interviews from applicants for Global Entry and other security programs for travelers,” per a Feb. 6 New York Times editorial.
And never mind the multitude of factors in the 9/11 attacks, such as lax airport security, the terrorists had entered the U.S. legally on work and student visas, using airplanes as bombs was on few people’s radar, and we have completely changed our airport security and immigration policies since and because of the attacks.
Forget the fact that drivers’ licenses have played little to no role in terrorist attacks since 9/11, such as the December 2019 mass shooting at the Navy Base in Pensacola, Fla., that left three American sailors dead. A member of the Royal Saudi Air Force carried out that attack. He was in the U.S. and on a U.S. military base legally and it’s doubtful he had a driver’s license.
Cuccinelli also attempted to disguise Trump’s obvious intent behind his ban: revenge.
First, Trump’s timing of the ban was no coincidence. The Green Light law went into effect on Dec. 16, 2019, two days before Trump was impeached – clearly not the moment for Trump to go after it.
But in his State of the Union speech on Feb. 5, just hours after the Senate acquitted Trump of two impeachment articles, he falsely accused California and New York of allowing local officials in their “sanctuary cities” “to order police to release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public instead of handing them over to ICE [Immigration and Custom Enforcement].”
Less than 24 hours later, Trump banned New York from the Trusted Traveler program.
The editorial dismissed reprisal as Trump’s motive for the ban, arguing it was “a larger push-back against the whole concept of ‘sanctuaries’” because he also went after New Jersey and Seattle. But why has he not done the same to Utah, which has sanctuary cities? Could it possibly be because Utah voted for Trump in 2016?
And since the editorial’s publication, Trump’s own words have shown another possible motive. On Feb. 13, hours ahead of his meeting with Governor Cuomo to find compromises on the ban, Trump tweeted, “(Cuomo) must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits and harassment.” It smacked of a quid pro quo a la Ukraine.
Trump concluded his tweet with a childish taunt at Chris Cuomo, the governor’s brother. Not surprisingly, Trump and Governor Cuomo did not come to any compromises in that meeting.
The editorial also warned the Green Light law “gives the amber to voter fraud.”
An Oct. 18, 2016 “Washington Week” article reported 44 voter fraud cases out of one billion votes had occurred since 2000 nationwide; that rate is 0.0000044 percent.
A side note: U.S. employers have rarely been punished for illegally hiring undocumented workers and supposedly endangering public safety by doing so.
Reasonable arguments for and against New York’s Green Light law with good evidence can be made, but Trump, Homeland Security, and this paper have yet to make them.