U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has resumed rail operations at the U.S.-Mexico border in Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas.
The international crossing bridges were reopened December 22, CBP said. U.S. border officials had closed the crossings on December 18 after detecting a surge in smuggling of migrants through Mexico by train.
“CBP will continue to prioritize our border security mission as necessary in response to this evolving situation,” CBP said in a statement. “We continue to assess security situations, adjust our operational plans and deploy resources to maximize enforcement efforts against those noncitizens who do not use lawful pathways or processes such as CBP One and those without a legal basis to remain in the United States.”
CBP said it is continuing to use all available resources to ensure the safety and security of its agents and officers, and the migrants who are often misled and victimized by transnational criminal organizations. It added its Office of Field Operations has re-directed personnel and resources in order to support the U.S. Border Patrol as well as perform its critical functions including the security and facilitation of lawful trade and travel.
U.S. and Mexican agriculture and rail groups had called for the reopening of the crossings since they were closed, saying the closures were hurting both countries’ economies. On December 20, more than 45 U.S. agricultural groups sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas requesting reopening of the crossings.
The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the North America Export Grain Association (NAEGA) welcomed news of the reopening in a joint statement.
“The North American agricultural supply chain is deeply integrated. Any closure of crossings into Mexico is unacceptable and significantly impacts the flow of grain and oilseeds for both human and livestock feed to one of the United States’ most important export markets and trading partners,” the statement said. “We call on the governments of the United States and Mexico to continue to dialogue and to put in place measures on both sides of the border to ensure this does not happen again. The free flow of trade across the border is critical to food security for our countries and the region at large. A plan must be in place to keep the border open to commerce between our nations.”