Friday, June 21, 2024

US border authorities close Cd. Juárez-El Paso cargo crossing

Trucks carrying freight from Mexico into the United States at the Juárez–El Paso border crossing are changing plans after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a “temporary suspension” of cargo processing at the Bridge of the Americas beginning Monday.

Mexico called the move a “unilateral measure taken by the United States,” but said it expected operations “will be restored in the next two to three days.” However, CBP did not comment on the anticipated length of the closure.

According to CBP, growing numbers of migrants are attempting to enter the United States via the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez bridge, which is considered an unofficial point of entry. (Wikimedia Commons)

In a statement, CBP said the move was made to allow its officers in the area to assist Border Patrol in processing migrants arriving outside of official crossings.

With a population of 1.6 million people, Ciudad Juárez is the most populous city in the northern state of Chihuahua and has experienced a massive arrival of migrants in recent months. Apprehensions and expulsions of migrants in the El Paso, Texas, sector reached a nearly four-month high over the past week, according to data from the city.

Chihuahua Governor Maru Campos said the suspension could generate daily losses of US $33 million and urged a quick resolution to the situation.

Campos said the Mexican government has the power to control the large flow of migrants reaching the border, and called on Mexican leaders to take action.

The populous border city of Ciudad Juárez is an important transport hub for its connectivity with El Paso. (Wikimedia Commons)

“This closure means the suspension of the passage of at least 600 trailers a day to the United States, with a high economic impact which could represent approximately $33 million a day,” she said.

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry (SRE) issued a statement that says Mexico is in contact with authorities from CBP at both the federal and local level.

“We understand the pressures to which the U.S. authorities are subject due to what is happening in the border area,” Campos added. “But Chihuahua is an active partner of the United States, which is why we are urging the Mexican federal government to resolve these cross-border issues.”

The press release from Mexico’s Foreign Ministry noted that “the management and improvement of [Mexico’s] bridges and crossings is one of the priorities of President López Obrador’s administration.”

Mexican authorities say the decision to close the cargo crossing was made unilaterally but was expected due to a recent surge in migration from Ciudad Juárez. (@DFOElPaso/X)

The release added that “in response to the difficulties that occasionally arise at merchandise crossings, the government of Mexico is carrying out a historic investment to modernize the infrastructure and equipment of its border crossings and customs under the framework of the 21st Century Borders project.”

However, the problem generated by the presence of thousands of would-be migrants in Ciudad Juárez continues. The newspaper Excelsior reported that approximately 1,000 additional migrants arrived in the border city on Sunday.

The Mexican government pointed out that commercial crossings continue as normal at three crossings all within 40 miles of the closure: Ysleta–Zaragoza, San Jerónimo-Santa Teresa and Tornillo-Guadalupe.

The Bridge of the Americas connects the border cities of Ciudad Juárez and El Paso. Its four separate structures include four lanes each way for passenger vehicles, as well as two lanes each way for trucks (and two sidewalks for pedestrians). In Juárez, the crossing is often called Puente Libre (free bridge) because there is no toll.

With reports from Milenio, Excelsior and Reuters

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