Op-ed: Matter of Face – Grudge match


Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Feb. 13. Trump wanted the state to supply access to DMV records that he says ICE needs to conduct immigration investigations. Cuomo wanted Trump to reverse his decision to prohibit access to Trusted Traveler programs for all New Yorkers under the disingenuous claim that unless they had the DMV records they couldn’t verify that participants were safe.

Following the Trump administration’s announcement of the New York ban earlier this month, state Attorney General Letitia James decried the move as unlawful, unconstitutional and discriminatory. The move is clearly an act of political retribution and one which can only have negative effects on commerce and security.

President Trump has been very vocal about his disdain for New York’s sanctuary policies. In fact, he specifically mentioned the matter in his recent State of the Union address. But in this case, he is using his annoyance over not having been able to bend New York to his will on immigration to justify penalizing the Empire State on an unrelated issue.

The irony is that Trump claims his extreme immigration enforcement policies are all about our economy and safety, but his retaliatory action against New York would hurt our economy and make us less safe.

A.G. James is currently suing the Trump administration for violating New Yorkers’ right to equal protection and equal state sovereignty under the U.S. Constitution. States’ rights have long been a mantra of the Republican Party and Trump has promoted his own belief in the philosophy, but it seems that for him, states’ rights only apply when he agrees with the state.

Gov. Cuomo said that if New York provided the access to the DMV data the federal government is requesting, it would only be so that “ICE can have a feeding frenzy assaulting undocumented people.”

Cuomo offered to provide DMV information to ICE, but only for applicants to the Trusted Traveler programs. Due to the detailed background checks associated with these programs, participants are highly unlikely to be undocumented. Trump had no interest in the counteroffer because it is not actually about safety, but instead just about finding all undocumented people.

A day after the meeting between the president and the governor, news broke that Trump is deploying border patrol tactical units to 10 sanctuary cities, including New York. These agents have Special Forces-type training and serve as the SWAT teams of the Border Patrol and they will be in our city to arrest undocumented people.

This is blatant retaliation against the city and state of New York for its policies. And raising concerns about this shift towards militaristic enforcement on our city streets for whatever the current president deems necessary may be alarmist, but rightfully so because this should set off alarms for everybody – especially after a Brooklyn man was shot in the face by ICE agents this month.

The day after Election Day 2019, ICE’s Special Response Team startled residents of Ridgewood, Queens when they rolled an armored vehicle through neighborhood streets to make an arrest. Their operation was not related to an immigration matter, but the sight of ICE agents operating a vehicle suited for a war zone struck fear into the hearts of many New Yorkers.

Unfortunately, more of the same can be expected from the most vindictive president to ever serve. His distaste for New York has been evident throughout his presidency, but it only seemed to intensify this past November, when a state judge ordered Trump to pay $2 million from a New York Attorney General lawsuit centered around his charitable foundation’s illegal coordination with his 2016 campaign.

New Yorkers shouldn’t be the only Americans not allowed to participate in a federal program that streamlines air travel just because the president is mad he had to pay a price for illegally using charitable contributions people donated to his foundation to support his own personal, political aspirations.

New Yorkers shouldn’t have to live in fear of seeing tanks on their streets or being shot in the face just because a man who grew up never hearing anyone tell him “no” can’t accept hearing it now from the city and state he grew up in.

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