Nebraska Sen. Fischer slams ‘highly troubling’ border railway operations suspension: ‘economic crisis’

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., told Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in a letter that suspending the international railway bridges in Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas was “highly troubling,” as failed efforts to control the border crisis are now putting a strain on supply chains and the economy.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on Sunday that it would be suspending operations at international railway crossing bridges in the two Texas cities along the southern border in response to the recent resurgence of smuggling organizations using freight trains to move migrants through Mexico to the U.S. border.

The suspension went into effect at 8 a.m. on Monday, just days after thousands of migrants were seen on video, lined up along railroad tracks as a freight train passed nearly three hours south of Eagle Pass, Texas.

US CUSTOMS TO SUSPEND RAILWAY OPERATIONS AT INTERNATIONAL CROSSINGS INTO TEXAS STARTING MONDAY

A BNSF Railway train in Mexico was seen carrying migrants on top as it headed to the U.S. southern border.  (Auden Cabello / @CabelloAuden )

CBP said the decision to suspend the crossing bridges was made in order to redirect personnel to assist U.S. Border Patrol with taking migrants into custody.

Fischer raised concerns that the suspension came after similar suspensions in operations or closures at pedestrian crossings in Eagle Pass, Texas, Lukeville, Arizona and San Ysidro in San Diego, California.

“It is highly troubling that the failed efforts to contain the border crisis are now placing a strain on the United States’ supply chains and economy,” Fischer wrote to Mayorkas. “The border crisis is not new. Since President Biden took office, CBP personnel have encountered over 6.6 million migrants – not counting additional millions of got-aways.”

THOUSANDS OF MIGRANTS WAIT A FEW HOURS FROM EAGLE PASS, TEXAS TO CATCH TRAINS HEADED FOR SOUTHERN BORDER

Mayorkas at congressional hearing

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 15: U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on November 15, 2023 in Washington, DC. The Committee held a hearing titled, “Worldwide Threats to the Homeland.” (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The senator broke down numbers for different sectors, saying El Paso and the field office saw 482,088 encounters during fiscal year 2023, up nearly 50% from 2022.

In Del Rio, she continued, the numbers remained elevated with nearly 400,000 migrant encounters during fiscal year 2023.

“Your office had an opportunity to implement policies that would stem the flow of illegal migration to prevent these suspensions from reoccurring,” Fischer said. “Instead, you failed to act and placed a heavier burden on American businesses and industries.”

MIGRANT ENCOUNTERS HIT DAILY RECORD AT SOUTHERN BORDER, AS WASHINGTON STRUGGLES TO AGREE ON SOLUTIONS 

Rio Grande Valley sector chief patrol agent

FILE: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection patch on the uniform of a Rio Grande Valley sector chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol.  (CBP)

The senator’s main concern, though, is that Mexico is a top market for agricultural products out of Nebraska. The products are shipped using the railroad, and the suspension of operations in Eagle Pass and El Paso will have a negative effect on the transportation of goods from Nebraska to Mexico.

Fischer said the state exported $590.4 million of corn and $280.6 million of soybeans and soybean products to Mexico in 2021, and the disruptions will not only affect Nebraska, but will impact Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Missouri.

She asked Mayorkas for a timeline of the closure and what his plan is to ensure the timely reopening of the crossings.

5,000 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS RELEASED EVERY DAY INTO US, ADMIN OFFICIALS PRIVATELY TELL LAWMAKERS

Dec. 12, 2023: Migrants are processed in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Dec. 12, 2023: Migrants are processed in Eagle Pass, Texas. (Fox News)

Fischer also asked the secretary what policy changes the Department of Homeland Security plans to implement to ensure disruptions in operations do not happen again, while also asking for daily figures concerning average migrant encounters in El Paso and Del Rio.

“Closing the railways in Eagle Pass and El Paso will cost agricultural producers across the United States millions per day,” she wrote. “The ongoing border crisis is no longer simply a national security and humanitarian crisis – it is an economic crisis. It is past time to enact policies that curb the record levels of migration at our southern border.”

Closing the railways will likely cause inflation, which according to a Fox News poll in November, was a major concern for most voters.

BIDEN CAMPAIGN OFFICIAL SAYS ONE TERM NOT ENOUGH TO FIX FINANCIAL WOES

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden speaks about his economic plan “Bidenomics” at Auburn Manufacturing Inc., in Auburn, Maine, on July 28, 2023.  ((Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images))

The poll found 78% of voters rate the economy negatively, and the majority feel the worst isn’t over. Inflation was the top concern of the majority of those surveyed, but only 29% of voters approved of Biden’s handling of the issue, while 69% said they disapproved.

Homeland Security falls under the Biden administration, and the decision to shut down the international crossings for freight trains ultimately falls on the president, who has been trying to prove the economy is better today than when he took office.

“Bidenomics,” a term that President Biden has repeatedly used to tout his economic achievements during his presidency, has become unpopular within a Democratic Party struggling to convince voters that life is better under Biden. 

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A number of historians and liberal columnists have advised Biden to stop using “Bidenomics,” with liberal presidential historian Douglas Brinkley telling NBC News the messaging “fell flat” with the public.

Jeffrey Clark of Fox News Digital contributed to this report.

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