BY LISA LAMBERT
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday his state will move ahead with a lawsuit against the federal government if President Donald Trump rejects his proposal to resolve a dispute on a travel program and immigration when the two leaders meet at the White House later in the day.
“Then we have a lawsuit,” Cuomo told reporters when asked what would happen if Trump turns down his offer of providing information from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles on residents joining so-called Trusted Traveler programs that help flight passengers speed through airport security lines.
“And by the way it’s not just New York,” he added.
The state already sued Trump’s administration on Monday to void the Department of Homeland Security policy, put in place in response to New York’s law passed last June that allows illegal immigrants to apply for driver’s licenses. The law limits federal immigration authorities from accessing records from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
But on Thursday, before traveling to Washington to meet with Trump, Cuomo pointed to a Homeland Security memo published by Buzzfeed earlier this week that outlined measures the department would take against states that limit access to driver records.
An agency spokeswoman described the memo to Buzzfeed as “informational” and said it did not affect the decision to cut the expedited travel programs for tens of thousands of New Yorkers.
Cuomo has said the memo shows the new policy is intended to punish New York and other states for granting drivers licenses to people in the country illegally.
Trump has taken strong measures to combat illegal immigration, and derided states and cities with more lenient policies for immigrants in both speeches and on Twitter.
Cuomo said that if Trump is concerned about keeping dangerous people out of the expedited travel program, then the president would accept his offer of providing data just on applicants and would not require access to all of New York’s driver records.
“You can’t use government power for your political purpose,” Cuomo, who has gone toe-to-toe with Trump in the past, told reporters before leaving for Washington. “That’s an abuse of government and that’s illegal.”