EAGLE PASS, Texas — Customs and Border Protection ordered the shutdown of one port of entry, the Eagle Pass International Bridge 1, and the second busiest international railway crossing in Texas. The closures were the response from the Biden administration to nearly 9,000 migrant crossings in the small Texas border town in five days. The port of entry closure resulted in a log jam of traffic for commuters on both sides of the border.
On Friday, the frustration could be felt as Breitbart Texas surveyed the long lines of vehicles hoping to enter Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, the border town directly across from Eagle Pass. Piedras Negras is home to more than 200,000 residents, thousands of whom legally enter the United States daily to shop, work, and travel in the United States.
Streets near the heart of the city were roadblocked and manned by the local police force to control the vehicular traffic forced to use the only remaining port of entry open in the city, the Camino Real International Bridge. On Wednesday, nearly 3,000 migrants were temporarily held by the Border Patrol under bridge while Border Patrol agents scrambled to arrange transportation to processing facilities across Texas.
Breitbart Texas spoke to several residents who said they are doing everything to avoid the downtown area’s long lines and traffic congestion. One man said he won’t be going home to Mexico and will stay with a friend.
Julio Hernandez, who routinely visits Eagle Pass, said the wait in line was just too long. “I have friends here I’ll stay with, tomorrow morning may be a better time to go home,” he lamented.
CBP issued a brief statement on Wednesday addressing the facility closures:
Beginning this afternoon, CBP’s Office of Field Operations will temporarily suspend vehicle processing operations at Bridge 1 and the international railway crossing bridge in Eagle Pass, Texas in order to redirect personnel to assist the U.S. Border Patrol with taking migrants into custody. In response to this influx in encounters, we will continue to surge all available resources to expeditiously and safely process migrants. We will maximize consequences against those without a legal basis to remain in the United States. CBP will continue to prioritize our border security mission as necessary in response to this evolving situation.
The mayor of Eagle Pass, Rolando Salinas spoke to Breitbart Texas and said he realized the inconvenience the longer lines are having. In a conversation with CBP officials on Friday, Salinas says he was told the Eagle Pass International Bridge 1 will remain closed indefinitely.
As far as international train traffic is concerned, Salinas says the rail port will open on Saturday. Although good news for industries that rely on rail deliveries on both sides of the border, the news is particularly bad for border residents who are likely to see daily migrant crossings in the thousands begin once again.
The pressure to reopen the rail gateway at Eagle Pass from business interests on both sides of the border is the likely impetus for CBP reopening the railway bridge. The impact on rail customers due to the closure has prompted officials from Union Pacific to travel to Eagle Pass for a meeting with local elected officials and law enforcement officers. Railway leaders sought to address the closure’s impact on commerce in Mexico and the United States. The financial impact of the rail closure thus far has yet to be reported.
The Eagle Pass rail crossing is second only to Laredo in the number of railcars entering the United States. More than 1,000 railcars pass through the rail bridge daily, carrying fully assembled vehicles, parts needed for vehicle assembly, electronic components, appliances, and perishable goods such as avocados and limes. The rail port also provides service to a Constellation Brands brewery in Nava, Coahuila, which is touted as the largest brewery of its kind in the world.
Ferromex, the train operator in Mexico, partly owned by Union Pacific, has been unable or unwilling to keep migrants from boarding the freight trains headed to the United States. The number of migrants using freight trains in Mexico to travel to Piedras Negras increased dramatically in recent weeks. As many as three to five thousand migrants are boarding each train leaving Monterrey, Mexico, to reach the border region. So far, no real effort to remove the migrants from the freight trains is occurring along the route in Mexico.
According to a source within Customs and Border Protection not authorized to speak to the media, the Border Patrol will conduct mass releases of migrants into the United States to reduce overcrowding caused by the recent surge in Eagle Pass.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.