Messy Handling Of Global Entry Eligibility Mirrors Wider Chaos Following Executive Order

By | February 9, 2017

[UPDATE, April 19, 2017: Attorneys for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee filed suit Tuesday against U.S. Customs and Border Protection in a Washington, D.C. federal district court. The plaintiffs are seeking to compel CBP to produce records in response to previously filed Freedom of Information Act requests related to CBP actions to “revoke, suspend or terminate participation” in Global Entry for certain Arab and Muslim U.S. citizens “without legal justification.” The complaint is here.]

Confusion following President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order suspending entry into the United States by people from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen also colored the government’s handling of business traveler-friendly expedited screening programs. A media official from U.S. Customs and Border Protection late Wednesday responded to questions sent Monday about revocations of program memberships.

Although the ban on entry for travelers from the seven countries — now on hold amid legal challenges — was temporary at 90 days, CBP decided impacted “trusted” travelers should lose their status.

“The executive order did not provide an exemption for trusted travelers so impacted travelers with a trusted traveler membership had that membership suspended,” according to an email from the CBP spokesperson.

That implies a temporary act, but notices sent to affected members did not say as much: “We regret to inform you that your membership in Global Entry has been revoked for the following reason: You do not meet program eligibility requirements.”

After the White House on Feb. 1 adjusted its order to clarify that legal permanent residents would be exempt, CBP had to shift its Global Entry posture as well.

Donald Trump, John kelly

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly
Image: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

“After the guidance was issued, CBP worked to reinstate LPR trusted traveler members who were no longer subject to the executive order,” according to the press official. “Those members were fully reinstated as of Feb. 2.”

Some members of Nexus and Fast “were still subject to the executive order and as such, their memberships remained suspended” until a federal judge in Seattle last Friday halted Trump’s order, the official explained.

“Following that ruling, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the executive order,” the official wrote. “CBP worked to reinstate members whose memberships were suspended. All trusted traveler memberships affected by the executive order have since been reinstated.”

Making determinations of which trusted travelers should or should not be subject to the order requires CBP to review each account “individually,” the official said.

Immigration attorney Greg Siskind has been following the issue closely. In response to the CBP statements, he wrote by email, “My initial observation is that none of the legal permanent residents have received a notification regarding reinstatement. If CBP isn’t notifying people, they will logically assume they’re not in the program anymore and may not bother accessing the kiosks. Second, it doesn’t explain why U.S. citizens also had their Global Entry revoked.”

Siskind said Tuesday that he knew of three citizens who lost their memberships.

A U.S. federal appeals court is deliberating following Tuesday’s arguments on the executive order.

Meanwhile, the government of Canada issued a statement Wednesday saying the roughly 200 Nexus members whose cards were revoked following the executive order have been reinstated.

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