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What the trusted traveler changes mean to you

The Trump administration changed the rules for cross-border travel late Wednesday when it stopped taking applications from New Yorkers for trusted traveler programs such as NEXUS and Global Entry.

But the new Department of Homeland Security policy also left plenty of questions to be answered. Here's a look at some of those key questions and what we know about the answers so far.

I already have NEXUS. Can I continue using it?

This is the most important question – and the answer is yes. The Trump administration policy blocks new applications and renewals for trusted traveler programs, but it does not affect people who already have NEXUS or Global Entry.

Those people won't be affected until the NEXUS or Global Entry cards expire at the end of their five-year life. At that point, New Yorkers will not be able to renew those cards.

How about TSA-PreCheck? Is that affected?

At this point, it is not. A top Trump administration official said Thursday that the popular program, which allows cardholders to enjoy a quicker walk through airport security, will continue as it has been in New York – for now, at least.

"PreCheck is not currently on the list (of affected programs), but that is all I'll say about that," the official said. "It doesn't mean it can't be in the future."

Rep. Tom Reed. (Mark Mulville/News file photo)

The Whirlpool Rapids Bridge in Niagara Falls is NEXUS-only. How will it be affected?

The NEXUS program will continue, and so will the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge's status. Only NEXUS members are allowed to cross at the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, which is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

But members of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission don't sound thrilled with the Trump administration move.

"We are certainly concerned that any limitations placed on the NEXUS program, enrollment, or card renewal could have lasting, detrimental regional economic and travel impacts," Bridge Commission General Manager Kenneth Bieger said in a statement. "We plan to communicate these concerns to various elected officials from all parties."

Will truck traffic at the Canada bridges increase because of this move?

Quite possibly. Along with NEXUS and Global Entry, FAST – a trusted traveler program for truck drivers – will be affected by the new Trump administration policy.

New York truck drivers who now belong to the FAST program will be able to continue to use it until their memberships in the program expire. At that point, they will not be allowed to renew them.

That would mean those truck drivers could, over time, increasingly clog local border crossings.

Why did the Trump administration do this?

Acting Homeland Security Secretary said his agency was suspending trusted traveler enrollment for New Yorkers because of the state's new Green Light law, which allows undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses.

The big problem with that law, Wolf said, is that it bars federal law enforcement agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement from accessing Department of Motor Vehicles data. That being the case, the Trump administration says continuing to issue trusted-traveler documents to New Yorkers would be risky because the federal government could not vet them properly.

What do Democrats say about this?

Democrats generally say this is not about national security, but about politics.

"This is obviously political retaliation by the federal government and we’re going to review our legal options," said Richard Azzopardi, senior adviser to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

How will New York State react to restrictions imposed on the federal travel programs?

The Empire State has three basic options.

First, Democrats who run the state government can change the law to soothe the Trump administration’s concerns over law enforcement and immigration being blocked from access to certain driver’s license records.

Two, it can do nothing, which will incur the wrath of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and businesses, who rely on the special pre-clearance travel programs.

Or third, it can try to overturn the move in court.

For now, choice one and two would seem unrealistic.

Included reporting by News Staff Reporters Tom Precious and Thomas J. Prohaska

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