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To read more about Senator Lankford’s border security policy proposal, CLICK HERE.

Lankford Demands Answers on CBP Rail, Port Closures on Southern Border and Decision to Redirect Customs Officers to Deal with Biden’s Border Chaos

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Troy Miller to get answers on why the Biden Administration decided to shut down the rail crossing at Eagle Pass in order to divert CBP personnel to deal with the flood of migrants at the southern border. Lankford also wants answers on why the Administration decided to suspend commercial traffic in El Paso and Eagle Pass and pedestrian operations in San Ysidro ports of entry.

Lankford asked Mayorkas and Miller to share their plan for continuing normal commercial and pedestrian operations and urged them to prioritize the resumption of normal commercial rail and traffic flows through our ports.

Lankford writes in his letter, “CBP is currently seeing a significant migrant surge in Eagle Pass, Texas. In order to address this migrant surge, CBP temporarily shut down the rail crossing and diverted the CBP Officers, whose primary mission is to facilitate lawful travel and trade, to process migrants. Over the past week, CBP has also suspended commercial traffic in El Paso and Eagle Pass and pedestrian operations in San Ysidro.

Lankford continues, “Trade between the United States and Mexico accounts for billions of dollars of goods on a weekly basis. These port closures affect the livelihoods of border communities, and they will have downstream effects that will significantly harm American businesses across the country by disrupting supply chains and fueling inflation in the food, consumer goods, and automobile markets.”

Lankford is pushing for bipartisan, common-sense solutions to secure the border, including efforts to strengthen Border Patrol and stop human and drug trafficking. Lankford visited the US-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona earlier this year and recently exposed DHS for cutting down border wall materials. 

You can read the full letter HERE and below:

Dear Secretary Mayorkas and Acting Commissioner Miller:

I write today to express my concerns about US Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) recent port and rail crossing closures along the southern border. CBP is reportedly encountering over 9,000 migrants per day, and reports indicate that somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 migrants have crossed the border in Eagle Pass over the last week. These numbers are significantly higher, and they are straining CBP’s ability to maintain its mission to facilitate lawful trade and travel along the southern border.

Over the past two years, I have engaged the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and CBP to learn the details of their plan following the termination of the Title 42 public health order. Over the summer, DHS assured the public that the “plan is working” and that numbers were down after the termination of Title 42. Under this reduction, we were still seeing historically high numbers of encounters. Numbers have now increased to even higher levels. Recent reporting in the Washington Post noted that CBP encountered the highest number of family units ever recorded. While we do not have final data from CBP for September, it is likely that the encounters for September are higher than the surge that occurred prior to the termination of Title 42.

CBP is currently seeing a significant migrant surge in Eagle Pass, Texas. In order to address this migrant surge, CBP temporarily shut down the rail crossing and diverted the CBP Officers, whose primary mission is to facilitate lawful travel and trade, to process migrants. Over the past week, CBP has also suspended commercial traffic in El Paso and Eagle Pass and pedestrian operations in San Ysidro. Trade between the United States and Mexico accounts for billions of dollars of goods on a weekly basis. These port closures affect the livelihoods of border communities, and they will have downstream effects that will significantly harm American businesses across the country by disrupting supply chains and fueling inflation in the food, consumer goods, and automobile markets. American companies are losing millions of dollars as these ports remain closed, and businesses will start to feel the cascading effects of these closures on our supply chains.

It is clear that the plan isn’t working. This situation is undermining our national security, and it will soon inflict serious economic harm on our country. I urge you to prioritize the resumption of normal commercial rail and traffic flows through our ports. In addition, I ask the following questions:

  1. Does DHS or CBP have a plan in place for continuing normal commercial and pedestrian operations at southern border ports during a migrant surge? If so, please share a copy of this plan.
  1. Does DHS or CBP have a plan in place for maintaining normal operations at international rail crossings along the southern border during a migrant surge? If so, please share a copy of this plan.
  1. DHS and CBP often receive intelligence indicating that there is a higher likelihood of a migrant surge happening in different sectors of the border. While not perfect, this intelligence helps DHS and CBP allocate resources and have a plan in place to maintain normal operations while managing a migrant surge. When did DHS or CBP have intelligence indicating that there would be a higher likelihood of the ongoing migrant surge in Eagle Pass? 
    1. If DHS or CBP had intelligence indicating that a migrant surge was coming to Eagle Pass, what steps did it take to prepare for managing the surge while continuing normal commercial processing operations?
    2. What communication occurred in real time with Mexican authorities about deterring the surge of migrants on the freight trains?
  1. When do DHS and CBP anticipate that the current surge in Eagle Pass will end? Please share any intelligence products discussing this surge and any anticipated end date.
  1. What impact will a government shutdown have on DHS and CBP’s commercial processing operations along the southern border?
  1. What is your plan for maintaining normal commercial processing during the potential government shutdown? Please share a copy of this plan.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to receiving your response by not later than 5:00pm, October 31, 2023.

In God We Trust,

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