Anti-immigrant data sharing mandate could delay New York’s access to COVID-19 vaccine: Cuomo

New York Governor Cuomo attends ceremonies to mark 19th anniversary of September 11
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo holds his hand over his heart as he attends ceremonies marking the 19th anniversary of the September 11

In his latest warning about federal plans for COVID-19 vaccine deployment and how this national strategy will mesh with New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he will not comply with a federal data sharing request put forward as part of the deal for states to receive the much needed vaccine.

In Cuomo’s opinion, the Trump administration’s requirement that states submit a personal ID number as well as standard health services data—such as age, sex and ethnicity—was emblematic of the anti-immigration stance of the present government, which has been “relentless in their pursuit of undocumented people.”

As a next step, the governor plans to write a letter to the CDC Director Robert R. Redfield and HHS secretary Alex Azar, to ask for a concrete reason behind the ID number request.

On the back of a critique launched Sunday over the inappropriateness and incompatibility of using a private sector model for vaccine distribution, Cuomo’s dissent from centralized plans raises questions as to when New York state resident will receive a vaccine.

The governor categorically stated that he would not provide the ID information if “it was going to be used to deport people,” a move which previously edged New York state out of the Trusted Traveler Program.

In December 2019, New York was banned from the Trusted Traveler Program — which allows pre-approved and low-risk travelers expedited clearance through airport security and other customs areas via Global Entry and NEXUS — after the Department of Homeland Security criticized the New York for enabling undocumented persons to obtain driver’s licenses without sharing immigration status’ with the federal government.

The ban was lifted in July, but not before an Oval Office confrontation between President Trump and Governor Cuomo in February.

Cuomo’s request for clarification will center around the obscuring language of the federal government, whose data-sharing request states the identification information — in most cases a driver’s license number, passport number or social security number — may be used by “the CDC, HHS and other federal partners.”

The latter category is reasonably speculated to not be public health agencies, but rather immigration agencies such as ICE and the DHS, representatives of which Cuomo decried as “thugs” who aimed to “extort New York State for immigration purposes.”

Monday’s briefing pours further scorn on the evolving plans of the Trump administration and its Coronavirus Task Force, seen as increasingly inadequate in the daunting task of administering 660 million coronavirus vaccine doses “expeditiously and equitably.”

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