Traveling out of the country just became slightly more of a headache for many New York surfers.
In a strange and politically-spiteful turn of events, the Trump Administration announced earlier this month that applications for trusted traveler programs (TTPs) such as Global Entry, the automated kiosk program that fast-tracks verified international travelers through check-in and security, would be suspended for New York State residents.
This is ostensibly in response to “Sanctuary Laws”, which allow people without legal residency to apply for drivers’ licenses in New York State, all while blocking federal agencies from accessing DMV databases to track them.
Those who already have Global Entry or other TTP memberships can still use them but won’t be able to reapply when they expire (Global Entry is good for 5 years). The same applies to those with (or wanting to obtain) a SENTRI pass — which many surfers use to pass swiftly across the border from the US to Mexico or Canada.
New Yorker Dion Mattison, who is the founder and lead instructor of Conatus Surf Club, and also a Ph.D. candidate at the New School for Social Research, is just one Empire State surfer recently stiff-armed by the policy. Mattison, who constantly travels in and out of the country on excursions with Conatus, had just recently decided to apply for Global Entry when he received a letter stating that the program had been suspended. It’s not so much the half-hour or so that Global Entry might have saved him, but that “It’s just a clear attack,” according to Mattison.
The New York Civil Liberties Union agrees in at least some sense, apparently, because on February 7, the day after the Trump Administration suspended Global Entries applications in New York, they announced their intention to file a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security.
“This is a political attack meant to punish New Yorkers for passing common-sense laws that fly in the face of Trump’s war on immigrant communities,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the NYCLU, in a press release on February 7.
So what does all of this mean for New York surfers? While certainly not the end of the world (although airport lines can often leave one feeling like that’s the case), New York surfers will not be able to enjoy the same time-saving perks afforded to travelers from other states.
There is at least one recent (if small) victory for globe-trotting surfers to celebrate, however. As Mattison pointed out: “The new [no] board bag fee thing is awesome,” referring to United and Alaska Airlines now accommodating surfboards for free. Amen to that.