U.S. Senators Katie Britt, Pete Ricketts, Colleagues Fight For Real Border Policy Changes

December 22, 2023

‘Take This Humanitarian, Security, And Economic Crisis Seriously’

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 22, 2023 — U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.), the Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, this week joined Senator Pete Ricketts (R-Nebr.) and six of their Republican colleagues in sending a letter demanding the Biden Administration re-open railway commerce at the southern border, while stressing that strong policy changes are needed to end the unprecedented national security, humanitarian, and economic crisis at the border.

Earlier this week, the Administration closed the Eagle Pass and El Paso railway crossings in order to process more migrants illegally entering the United States. It is estimated that every day the crossings remain closed costs the United States economy $200 million. Union Pacific Railroad, which covers 23 states in the country, advised that both railway gateways combined represent 45% of its cross-border transit and urged the Biden Administration to re-open these essential crossings. Following the Senators’ letter, CBP on Friday afternoon announced the re-opening of the rail crossings.

“The continued refusal by this Administration to enact strong policies at the border is reckless, unsustainable, and intolerable,” said Senator Britt. “This is a national security, humanitarian, and economic crisis of President Biden’s own making, and he continues to show no real signs of wanting to reverse course. My Republican colleagues and I have offered solution after solution to end this crisis, but this Administration has only doubled down on its dangerous agenda that puts hardworking American families last at every turn. We will continue to fight for strong border policy changes that put a stop to this madness.”

This month, illegal border encounters are on pace to eclipse 300,000 and shatter yet another all-time record.

“This is happening because President Biden won’t do what it takes to get the border crisis under control,” said Senator Ricketts. “The President’s own team shut down the shipment of American made goods to process thousands of migrants illegally crossing the border. This should be enough for him to admit we have a crisis at our border. It’s unacceptable that American consumers and businesses will pay the price for Biden’s incompetence.”

In addition to Senators Britt and Ricketts, the letter was signed by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kans.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Jerry Moran (R-Kans.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

Full text of the letter can be found below and a PDF is available here:

Dear Secretary Mayorkas:      

We write today to express our serious concern with the Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) recent actions to suspend international railway crossings and rail operations in Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas. On December 18, 2023, CBP pulled personnel from those operations and redirected them to assist with the migrant surges at the southwest border. In recent weeks, CBP has also suspended vehicle processing at Eagle Pass International Bridge 1 and operations at California’s San Ysidro Pedestrian West and Arizona’s Lukeville Port of Entry. Without putting real policies in place to cut the increasing flow of illegal immigration, our national security and economy will continue to pay the price.  

We are living in the worst border crisis on record. There have now been over 6.6 million encounters at the southern border since President Biden took office—not including the approximately 1.8 million “gotaways” who were detected but never apprehended. Just on December 5, 2023, CBP reported 12,000 migrant encounters, the highest total for a single day ever recorded. Failure upon failure, your office continues to ignore real solutions to an increasingly urgent crisis, one that is now causing significant disruptions to our supply chain.      

CBP’s decision to suspend rail service and close international crossings at Eagle Pass and El Paso directly and immediately impacts our carriers’ ability to move goods across the North American rail network and to the North American consumers who rely on them. The success of our trade partnership with Mexico relies on the successful operation of these international railway crossings. U.S. goods and services trade with Mexico totaled an estimated $855.1 billion in 2022. Eagle Pass and El Paso accounted for a total of $33.95 billion or 35.8% of all cross-border rail traffic to and from Mexico in the last year. This includes products such as grains, consumer goods, automobiles and auto parts, and chemicals. In 2021, the U.S. exported more than $2.6 billion of soybeans and more than $4.7 billion of corn to Mexico. American producers and consumers will suffer daily as long as these entry points are closed.     

The crisis at our nation’s southern border is unprecedented and is the worst it has ever been in our country’s history. Only smarter and effective policies will guide us out of it and without a real plan, this Administration will hardly address the substantial challenges that currently exist. Redirecting a small group of CBP personnel away from these rail entries will not do anything to get us closer to a solution. We urge you to reopen the rail ports of entry at Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas. Further, we urge you to take this humanitarian, security, and economic crisis seriously and engage with Congress to enact real policy change that stops the flow of illegal migration.