On Thursday, Feb. 20, Newsday state politics reporter Michael Gormley reported on Matthew Albence, President Donald Trump's director of immigration enforcement, who was in the Albany area to affirm opposition to New York's Green Light Law. Credit: Newsday / Michael Gormley

TROY — President Donald Trump’s director of immigration enforcement on Thursday rejected Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's compromise to restore New Yorkers to "trusted traveler" programs that allow pre-certified people to go through airports and border crossings more quickly.

Instead, acting Customs director Matthew Albence said Cuomo has created a law enforcement crisis.

At issue is New York’s Green Light Law, effective Dec. 14, which allows people living in the country illegally to get driver's licenses. The law also denies driver’s license records to the federal immigration offices because Cuomo fears the records would be used to harass and deport immigrants.

In reaction, the federal Department of Homeland Security suspended New Yorkers from joining or extending their membership in “trusted traveler” programs such as Global Entry that allows pre-certified travelers to speed through border checkpoints in airports, seaports and highways. The popular PreCheck program isn't affected.

Albence on Thursday wouldn’t discuss any progress in the standoff on the issue between Cuomo and Trump. Instead, he said the issue isn’t about immigration, but about catching criminals including rapists, murderers and child sex rings.

“This is a pre-9/11 mentality in a post-9/11 world,” Albence said. He spoke at an upstate sheriff’s office, flanked by two dozen upstate law enforcement officials.

Albence said New York’s Green Light Law is risking the lives of New Yorkers and police officers nationwide.

Safe, effective law enforcement “depends on getting the right piece of information, in the right hands, at the right time,” Albence said at the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office as protesters chanted and banged on windows loudly enough to briefly drown out the speakers inside.

He and a string of other law enforcement from Republican-dominated counties insisted Cuomo is making the state less safe and that the federal officers need all driver’s license records.

Cuomo’s compromise of providing driver’s licenses only to those applying for the trusted traveler programs isn’t enough, Albence said.

“Politicians have chosen to place their interests over your well-being,” Albence said at the news conference.

He said Immigration and Customs Enforcement doesn't want or need driver's license records to locate people in the country illegally, but acknowledged the records would be used in enforcing immigration laws as well as violent felonies.

Asked how driver’s licenses could help catch a rapist or murderer, Albence said they are often needed to obtain search warrants or to identify the owners of automobiles. Asked if he thought such criminals would have accurate driver’s licenses or auto registrations, he said he wants to have the records because many of them may use them in air travel and for other purposes.

“Information is the lifeblood of law enforcement,” he said.

“They cannot have access to the database by state law,” Cuomo said Thursday. “They want access to a database to undocumented people who have done nothing wrong … so they can disrupt families and continue their … pure political crusade.”

The ICE director said that although police work closely together, it's not feasible for his agency to go through the FBI for every New York driver's license record it needs.

“It’s political extortion,” Cuomo said.

Outside the sheriff’s office, protesters chanted against ICE operations that have arrested and deported people living in the country illegally who weren’t committing crime, some of whom have lived peacefully in the United States for years.

“Immigration under attack!” and “Abolish ICE!” were among the chants.

From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

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From new rides at Adventureland to Long Island's best seafood restaurants to must-see summer concerts, here's your inside look at Newsday's summer Fun Book. Credit: Newsday Staff

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