Press Releases

Rice Holds Hearing to Demand Answers from DHS on Arbitrary Expulsion of New Yorkers from Trusted Traveler Programs

Gives Department until Friday to explain when documents requested in July will be provided

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Washington, October 1, 2020 | comments

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice (NY-04), the Chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, & Operations, held a hearing yesterday to question Robert Perez, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deputy Commissioner, about the management of Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP). Specifically, the hearing examined inaccurate and misleading testimony previously provided to the Committee by senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials after residents of New York State were arbitrarily and improperly singled out and banned from TTPs, including Global Entry, earlier this year.

Perez was the only DHS official present at yesterday's hearing, despite the Committee’s requests for four witnesses. The Department has also refused to make employees available for transcribed interviews and has continued to ignore the Committee’s request to turn over documents and communications related to the investigation. Chairwoman Rice demanded that the Department confirm by Friday when the documents and communications the Committee has sought since July will be provided.

“There are only two possible reasons why New Yorkers were barred from Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler Programs earlier this year,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “It was either the result of a complete lack of understanding of how these programs worked on the part of senior DHS officials, which is troubling in its own right, or more likely, it was an intentional act of political retribution because the President wanted to punish New York State. Unfortunately, DHS continues to stonewall our investigation and this testimony did not bring us any closer to the truth. This is unacceptable and the Committee will continue to use every investigative tool available to get to the bottom of this matter and hold the Administration accountable.”

“After this hearing, we still have many unanswered questions as to why we were misled about the Department’s decision to summarily exclude New Yorkers from CBP’s Trusted Traveler programs,” said Chairman Bennie G. Thompson. “The Department must end its stonewalling and comply immediately with our document requests and make DHS officials available for interviews. We will never simply accept inaccurate or misleading testimony and it is our duty to continue our investigation. We will hold this Administration accountable for the arbitrary, unjustifiable, and apparently politically motivated decisions it has made until we find out the truth about these actions.”

The full video of the hearing can be found here.

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