Railroad operations resume after 5-day closure in 2 Texas border towns

The federal government on Friday reopened railroad crossings in two Texas border towns, five days after the shuttering of rail operations there disrupted trade and caused outrage.

Customs and Border Protection closed railroad operations in Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas, on Monday to reallocate their customs officers to help Border Patrol take migrants into custody. Both regions have seen the number of illegal border crossings soar this month.

Operations resumed at both cities as of Friday afternoon.

Troy Miller, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s acting commissioner, said the closures at Eagle Pass and El Paso were a response to more migrants traveling on freight trains recently. Miller said authorities are seeing “unprecedented” arrivals at the border, topping 10,000 crossings on some days this month.

The closures affected two of the six available rail border crossings between the U.S. and Mexico. Union Pacific and BNSF, the affected carriers, said automotive, agricultural, chemicals, and other consumer goods were halted. Union Pacific estimated that the closures cost $200 million in daily losses across affected industries.

CBP said they made the changes after observing a shift in the trends of smuggling operations in Mexico that used freight trains. Although migrants board trains traveling through Mexico, the railroad carriers said they have safety measures in place to deter and detect migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. aboard their cars.

Union Pacific said it has found only five migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally on its trains in the last five weeks.

“Through our efforts, we have experienced very few people attempting to cross the border on trains at both ports of entry,” BNSF said via a statement.

Other similar decisions to close down ports of entry and redirect officers to help with an uptick in migrant crossings are still in place. CBP said vehicular traffic is still suspended at one of the two international bridges in Eagle Pass. A pedestrian entry in San Diego, a port of entry in Lukeville, Arizona, and a border crossing in Nogales, Arizona, remain closed as of Friday.

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