A House Democrat in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) is breaking from the group to call for “tougher” border security measures after the ongoing migrant crisis forced U.S. officials to suspend railway operations between Texas and Mexico in two cities.
The statement by Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, whose district is anchored in Laredo, stands in stark contrast with the CHC’s position on the current border negotiations between Republicans and the White House.
Cuellar said rail operations were being stopped in Eagle Pass and El Paso on Monday morning so Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) could “redirect personnel to process migrants.”
“The crisis at our border is seriously affecting legitimate trade,” Cuellar wrote the evening prior. “This year alone, vehicle and rail operations have been suspended at multiple ports of entry due to an overwhelming number of migrants, worsening delays for truck drivers transporting goods and costing our economy millions.”
He finished, “Our border communities desperately need more federal resources, and we need tougher measures at the border. We must secure the border now.”
CBP accused smugglers of using freight trains to bring people into the U.S. illegally in a statement on Sunday night announcing the planned closures for Monday at 8 a.m. local time.
“CBP is continuing to surge all available resources to safely process migrants in response to increased levels of migrant encounters at the Southwest Border, fueled by smugglers peddling disinformation to prey on vulnerable individuals,” the statement said.
“After observing a recent resurgence of smuggling organizations moving migrants through Mexico via freight trains, CBP is taking additional actions to surge personnel and address this concerning development, including in partnership with Mexican authorities.”
It comes amid intense negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in both the White House and Senate over President Biden’s $110 billion supplemental aid package for Israel, Ukraine and other causes.
Republicans have made clear they would not consider Biden’s request unless it was tied to stricter border security and asylum measures.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which is all-Democrat, released a statement last week urging Biden to show restraint in what he is willing to commit to in managing the border crisis.
“We are deeply concerned that the President would consider advancing Trump-era immigration policies that Democrats fought so hard against – and that he himself campaigned against – in exchange for aid to our allies that Republicans already support,” they said. “Caving to demands for these permanent damaging policy changes as a ‘price to be paid’ for an unrelated one-time spending package would send a dangerous precedent.”