UP Urges to Reopen the Eagle Pass and El Paso Border Crossings
On December 18, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) temporarily suspended freight train railway crossings at El Paso and Eagle Pass border bridges to shift staffing because of surging numbers of migrants. This is the second time freight train railway crossings have been closed in the second semester of 2023 due to the immigration surge at the southern border.
CBP said that staff is being redirected to assist the U.S. Border Patrol with taking migrants into custody and processing while prioritizing border security in what CBP described as an "evolving situation."
Meanwhile, Union Pacific (UP) urges the Eagle Pass and El Paso border crossings to be reopened immediately. The company said these locations represent 45% of cross-border Union Pacific business and include goods critical to the U.S. economy.
“There isn’t enough capacity at our other four gateways to reroute them. With Christmas and the New Year’s holidays just days away, Union Pacific is in close communication with multiple government agencies and our customers, urging that the crossings closed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection be reopened. While the company understands this is a complex humanitarian crisis, most migrants are not crossing the border on trains,” UP said in a statement.
The company added that every day the border is closed, UP is forced to embargo customers’ goods on more than 60 trains, or nearly 4,500 rail cars, with an equivalent of goods being held in Mexico.
The American Association of Railroads said the El Paso and Eagle Pass railway closures would directly impact Union Pacific and BNSF, which operate several trains daily at the crossings, carrying agricultural products, vehicles, automotive parts, chemicals, and consumer goods for companies across North America.
“Union Pacific is doing everything possible to stage trains and work with customers to prevent congestion at the border. The longer this closure is in effect, the more difficult it will be for cross-border trade to resume,” UP said in its statement.
UP added that it uses its employees, police force, and technology -including an x-ray system that uses gamma-ray imaging- to look for people and contraband.
In recent weeks, CBP has implemented various adjustments as part of its commitment to "respond, process, and enforce consequences" for unauthorized border crossings with Mexico. Notably, international railway traffic has been temporarily halted. In Texas, vehicle traffic remains disrupted at Eagle Pass International Bridge 1. At the same time, San Diego's Pedestrian West operations at San Ysidro continue to be on hold, and the Lukeville Port of Entry in Arizona remains closed, according to CBP.