Illustration for article titled The United States Customs Is Blocking Car Exports From New York
Image: Flickr

This week, the Department of Homeland Security has informed vehicle importers and exporters that all exports of New York-titled and registered vehicles will be on hold until further notice.

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According to an email sent to vehicle shippers and customs brokers by the Customs and Border Protection agency obtained by Jalopnik, “Effective immediately, all exports of New York titles or New York registrations vehicles will be placed on hold.”

This development comes as the DHS reacts to the implementation of New York’s “Green Light Law,” which allows residents of New York to apply for standard non-commercial drivers’ licenses regardless of citizenship or lawful status in the United States. The law also prohibits New York’s department of motor vehicles from sharing data with federal agencies involved with immigration enforcement.

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The DHS implemented this hold on exports in conjunction with other restrictions on New York, most notably on registration and renewal of Trusted Traveler programs like Global Entry, SENTRI, FAST, and NEXUS, many of which are used by New York residents crossing the state’s land border with Canada.

In a press release, the DHS explained that both the Trust Traveler programs and the processing of vehicle exports require access to DMV records. In the case of the Trusted Traveler programs, the DHS claims that it uses the records to perform background checks to determine eligibility. In the case of exports, the data is used to verify ownership records.

In the past year, DHS agencies like the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies have come under fire for using state-collected DMV data including using artificial intelligence to use databases of drivers’ license photos from other states as a resource in pursuing suspected undocumented immigrants, occasionally without first obtaining a warrant. Events like these drove New York lawmakers to include the restrictions on information-sharing in the legislation in addition to the new drivers’ license requirements. Democrats in New York claim that these restrictions on data-sharing will provide for greater protection of civil rights while DHS officials have suggested that the restrictions make it harder for law enforcement to do their jobs.

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In a statement on Friday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo called the policy to limit New Yorkers’ access to the trusted traveler programs “arbitrary and capricious” and “an abuse of power,” noting that while thirteen other states and the District of Columbia have similar laws on their books, only New York has been targeted with any new restrictions on travel programs or the processing of exports.

We have reached out to a number of customs brokers and vehicle shipping agencies to try to understand the impact of these new restrictions on vehicle export on their businesses. If you have you work in vehicle shipping or customs brokerage and have information about these developments, please reach out to us at tips@jalopnik.com.

Max Finkel is a Weekend Contributor at Jalopnik.

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