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New York is the fourth most populous state in the United States with 19.5 million residents, according to 2019 US census estimates. New York accounts for 5.86% of the US population, and 0.25% of the population of the world.  That's 19.5 million residents documented residents.  Citizens.  Most of whom probably don't travel outside the US, but those who do are being punished for Albany's policies on undocumented residents of the state.  And it has brought Governor Andrew Cuomo's ongoing battle against President Donald Trump to the forefront.

Trump wants undocumented residents out of the country, presumably on the grounds that 'illegal aliens' are here... well, illegally.  Cuomo has taken a more humanitarian stand on the issue, which includes allowing these folks to get New York driver's licenses.  One side argues people who are not in the country legally should not be legitimized with an official government permit.  The other side argues that all New York drivers are safer on the roads if everyone who actually drives has gone through the same required driver training and testing before they hit the roads.  Now the Federal Department of Homeland Security wants access to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database.  Cuomo says they want it to help identify and deport undocumented residents.  The Trump administration is allegedly retaliating against the state by excluding all New Yorkers from the Trusted Traveler Program.

Cuomo says that will negatively impact over 200,000 New Yorkers, who will experience greater delays when they cross the border.  This week a Cuomo press release said, "border delays on the U.S./Canada border have already cost American businesses billions of dollars each year and resulted in tens of thousands of jobs lost, making the president's decision even more harmful to New Yorkers — especially those in Western New York."

"What they're saying is we have to kick these New Yorkers off the Trusted Traveler Program because we don't have the right data," Cuomo said on yesterday's MSNBC Morning Joe program. "They want to access our the Department of Motor Vehicle database. Really what they want is undocumented people who are in our database to give to ICE. That's what they really want and they're offended that we give licenses to undocumented drivers because we want to keep our people safe on the road, so they're punishing New York, New Jersey, California, King County in Washington State - all who had the audacity to disagree politically and give undocumented people driver's licenses."

I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand adhering to the law is important if societies are to exist.  Being in this country illegally is illegal and has implications that impact all Americans.  While many of those implications are negative, not all of them are.  But ignoring the law isn't a good start to participating in a country.

On the other hand, for an administration that claims to be fighting for a better economy for US companies and citizens, economically punishing a fifth of all Americans seems like an odd choice.  New York has the third highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all the states.  That's a pretty good chunk of the US total GDP.  Threatening that for political purposes seems counter-intuitive.

Cuomo says he has already agreed to allow access to the database by Homeland Security, but that the President is retaliating against New York because the database doesn't include 'the right data', presumably data identifying undocumented residents of the state.  Cuomo and Trump sere scheduled to meet in person yesterday to discuss the issue, but the results were predictable -- none (we'll talk more later).  Possibly the greatest outcome of the meeting was gaining political points for the two men among their own supporters (preaching to the choirs, so to speak).

Meanwhile the NYS Attorney General has sued the US Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection, and the acting-leaders of both agencies, arguing that prohibiting New Yorkers from enrolling or re-enrolling in the Trusted Traveler Programs "is arbitrary and poses a threat to New Yorkers' safety and the State's economy, directly harms hundreds of thousands of individual residents, and interferes with New York's rights as a sovereign state."

It does seem that law abiding New Yorkers are the ones paying.

As tax time approaches people on both sides of the undocumented aliens issue need to assess their positions on who to elect in the next elections.  Political feuds among powerful elected officials make good headlines and arguably help the feudees.  The people who are hurt by them are us.  The country that is hurt by them is also US.

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