Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf refuted claims made by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on Thursday after the far-left lawmaker suggested that the Trump administration was using DHS to target New York residents for personal and political gain.
DHS is currently barring New York residents from participating in Global Entry and Trusted Traveler Programs [TTP] because “applicants are supposed to be subjected to checks and those with criminal records would be disqualified from the program, but New York was not letting CBP check DMV databases in order to vet the applicants,” Fox News reported.
In a letter, Wolf wrote, “New York is the only state, that bears repeating, the only state that restricts CBP access to their DMV data across the board, not only for immigration purposes, but for law enforcement purposes, for customs purposes, but also for trade and travel facilitation purposes.”
On Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez responded to President Donald Trump tweeting, “I’m seeing Governor Cuomo today at The White House. He must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment, start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes. Build relationships, but don’t bring Fredo!”
“Trump is publicly admitting that he is holding Global Entry for New Yorkers hostage in exchange for dropping lawsuits against him and his family’s lawbreaking behavior,” Ocasio-Cortez claimed without evidence. “This is corrupt, illegal, and authoritarian. Hope Collins and Murkowski are proud of their vote.”
Trump is publicly admitting that he is holding Global Entry for New Yorkers hostage in exchange for dropping lawsuits against him and his family’s lawbreaking behavior.
This is corrupt, illegal, and authoritarian.
Hope Collins and Murkowski are proud of their vote. https://t.co/I49Ksj7VAm
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 13, 2020
Wolf responded to Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet during an interview on Fox News on Thursday night when asked what he said to say about her tweet.
“I think this is their talking point. They keep bringing it back to politics,” Wolf said. “It has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with security. The president understands that; I believe the governor understands that, which is why he’s now allowing access, or at least providing that option for us to vet Trusted Travelers.”
“So, it’s beyond politics. It’s about security and whether DHS has the ability to do their job or not. And, again, we see a number of states. We have five other states that are withholding information from DHS,” Wolf continued. “So, it’s a very dangerous precedent that we’re setting here.”
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Here now exclusively, Chad Wolf, he is the acting secretary of Homeland Security.
Mr. Secretary, thanks for coming.
CHAD WOLF, ACTING SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Thank you, Ed.
HENRY: You just heard the Democratic governor. He says you’re guilty of extortion.
WOLF: Well, I think that’s just totally inaccurate. This is about security, and it’s not about politics. And I’ve been absolutely clear with the governor and any other New York state individual or lawmaker that I talk with.
CBP needs access to this database to run their security checks on our Trusted Travelers. It’s that plain and simple.
There’s no politics about it. They cut off access. We need it back to totally vet these individuals.
HENRY: And, in fact, the sheriff’s association here in New York State seems to be backing you, I want to point out.
They say to the governor, our inability under the law to share this DMV data with federal immigration officers jeopardizes the safety of those police officers. We find it offensive that in order to avail our own deputies of this DMV data that they need for their own safe operations, we were coerced into signing a nondisclosure agreement which jeopardizes the safety of our federal partners.
We’ve seen police officers, as you know, law enforcement all around this country targeted. We see it all the time.
Is this adding to that? How desperate is the situation?
WOLF: I believe — yes, I believe it is. I think what we’ve seen over the last week or so is a number of law enforcement associations and officials in the state of New York come out against this law because of how dangerous it is.
Again, it restricts information-sharing with DHS across the board. Again, that’s not only for that we’re talking about here. It’s also for customs enforcement. It’s also for national security and law enforcement purposes.
An individual coming into the country, CBP officers need this information to determine is this a legitimate person coming in or do we need to take a closer look at that? And we only — we’re only able to do that if we share information.
So, after 9/11 — this is what 9/11 was all about. One of the lessons learned was —
WOLF: — we need to share information. We need to tear down these silos. We don’t need to be building these up to keep information from law enforcement officials. So —
HENRY: We — we mentioned, pardon me, that the president was tweeting about how he wants to get rid of these lawsuits. New York state coming after him in various ways.
The governor did an interview where he went further and not just attacking the president but going after you. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): You are knocking on the door saying I’ll burn down the house if you don’t give me entry? I’ll give you entry for the TTP enrollees on the case-by-case basis. Don’t burn down the house.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
CUOMO: They said, I’m burning down the house anyway. All right? So, now, they’re just arsonists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: How do you respond to that?
WOLF: Well, I would say, I’m not sure why you passed the law to begin with.
So, they passed the law back in July of ’19. It took effect in December. And so, they clearly knew what they were doing. They clearly knew the impacts of this, and I’m not sure that they really fully understood it.
So we continue to work with them. Look, we want to find a solution to this.
WOLF: The solution requires them to turn on access so that we can vet Trusted Travelers. I’ve been very clear about that. I’ll continue to be very clear about that.
This is about law enforcement. This is about security.
WOLF: This is about the ability to connect those dots and to share that information.
And, again, it’s particularly interesting coming from New York, again, from where 9/11 occurred. We want to make sure that we share information and not continue to withhold information.
HENRY: Safety paramount, no doubt.
You might also be interested in — when you talk about New York officials coming after you, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the congresswoman, is tweeting tonight.
Trump is publicly admitting that he is holding Global Entry for New Yorkers hostage in exchange for dropping lawsuits against him and his family’s law-breaking behavior.
Those are her words.
This is corrupt, illegal and authoritarian. Hope Collins and Murkowski are proud of their votes.
She’s, of course, referring to the impeachment trial not guilty and the rest. Susan Collins saying the president learned his lesson about quid pro quos.
How do you respond to that one?
WOLF: I think this is their talking point. They keep bringing it back to politics.
It has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with security. The president understands that, I believe the governor understands that, which is why he’s now allowing access, or at least providing that option for us to vet Trusted Travelers.
So, it’s beyond politics. It’s about security and whether DHS has the ability to do their job or not. And, again, we see a number of states. We have five other states that are withholding information from DHS.
WOLF: So, it’s a very dangerous precedent that we’re setting here.
And the department, again, needs this information. New York is the only state — and I think that bears repeating — the only state that prohibits information-sharing with both ICE and CBP officials trying to do their job, with (ph) law enforcement, customs, and vetting Trusted Travelers — the only state.
HENRY: Those officials have an important job of keeping this country safe. You do as well, Mr. Secretary. That’s why we appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
WOLF: Thank you.