Restaino says Trusted Traveler ban will hurt local economy

Robert Restaino

A day after state officials announced they would file a lawsuit aimed at overturning a federal ban on New York’s Trusted Traveler Program, Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino is calling on the state Republican congressional delegation to advise President Trump to reverse “this arbitrary decision.”

In a release issued Saturday, Restaino said the Trump administration’s decision, “will undoubtedly have an incredible negative impact on the business, trade and commerce that Niagara Falls and surrounding communities rely upon for their local economy.”

Restaino later added, “If members of the Republican congressional delegation from NYS wish to continue to enable decisions and policies that ignore the rule of law and smack of nothing more than political retribution, then the lost trade and commerce that their communities suffer, as a consequence of this senseless decision, can be their responsibility as well.”

The mayor ended the release stating he supports the efforts of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Attorney General Letitia James in filing a joint lawsuit against the measure.

James, who was at Niagara Falls City Hall on Friday, said there are a number of grounds on which to file the suit, alleging that it violates legal protection law, the Administrative Procedure Act and that it discriminates against the state of New York specifically. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this week that it would prohibit New Yorkers from participating in the Trusted Traveler Program, which includes NEXUS and other pre-approved traveler programs that allow people to use expedited lanes at airports and international borders. Under the Department of Homeland Security’s ban, New Yorkers will no longer be eligible to apply for or renew membership in U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler Programs. Such programs are operated by the Department of Homeland Security who independently verifies identity and citizenship, and DMV data and information is not necessary for such programs.

The move followed the state’s approval of the Green Light Law, which allows undocumented immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses in New York. In doing so, the state prevented federal immigration agencies from accessing Department of Motor Vehicle data.

The full text of Mayor Restaino’s release:

“In recent days the Trump Administration arbitrarily decided to prohibit New Yorkers from Trusted Travelers Programs, which among other things, are designed to expedite travel and commerce between US and Canada.

This decision will undoubtedly have an incredible negative impact on the business, trade and commerce that Niagara Falls and surrounding communities rely upon for their local economy.

As we continue to work toward growing the economy of Niagara Falls and Western New York, it is clear that travel and trade across the Canadian border is a vital part of that growth, we cannot afford to suffer from prohibitive, arbitrary and disastrous decisions by the federal government.

Any suggestion that this decision by the Trump Administration is based on necessary security measures is just nonsense. If members of the Republican congressional delegation from NYS wish to continue to enable decisions and policies that ignore the rule of law and smack of nothing more than political retribution, then the lost trade and commerce that their communities suffer, as a consequence of this senseless decision, can be their responsibility as well.

As mayor of the City of Niagara Falls, I am asking the Republican congressional members of NYS to do their job for their constituents and advise the president to reverse this arbitrary decision that will impact local trade, traffic and commerce.

Further, I support the efforts of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Letitia James in seeking court intervention to redress the outrageous decision of the Trump Administration, so that Niagara Falls and Western New York do not suffer economic hardship as a result of this arbitrary policy.”

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