According to the announcement of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), this suspension was necessary to redirect CBP personnel toward processing illegal migrants who had arrived in El Paso and Eagle Pass. Trade stakeholders were advised to reroute their cargo to alternative processing facilities during the suspension.
Democratic State Rep. Mary Gonzalez, whose district includes El Paso, reported that wait times for truck crossings at the nearby Ysleta Bridge in southern El Paso exceeded 19 hours on the same day due to the overflow from BOTA moving to a different port of entry. Gonzalez also blamed the delays on "enhanced commercial vehicle safety inspections."
The BOTA port of entry connects El Paso with the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez. It is one of the four ports of entry in El Paso and in recent weeks it has experienced a massive increase in traffic. The recent suspension coincided with a significant influx of illegal immigrants at the Eagle Pass border crossing.
Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber reported that thousands of migrants crossed into the United States at Eagle Pass over several days, prompting the declaration of a state of emergency in the Texas city due to a "severe undocumented immigrant surge."
This is not the first time cargo processing operations have been impacted by a surge of illegal immigrants at the border. Earlier in the year, a similar situation happened, costing the trucking industry millions of dollars per day in delays. (Related: Trump vows to implement the largest domestic deportation operation in American history if re-elected as president in 2024.)
Meanwhile, law enforcement officials revealed that this surge in illegal migrants is just another tactic of drug cartels operating along the U.S.-Mexico border. This strategy is designed to divert the attention of already overburdened border agents and let them continue their drug and human smuggling operations without interference in less populated areas.
These alarming mass surrenders are also fueled by cartel-generated misinformation, including false claims about the federal government's CBP One app for scheduling immigration appointments. These false narratives suggest that anyone awaiting a CBP One appointment can turn themselves in and obtain asylum, thereby enticing more migrants to surrender to authorities.
Local TV station KVIA reported that up to 500 asylum seekers, primarily from Venezuela, lined up at El Paso aiming to enter the United States. Although they had crossed the border illegally, they hoped to remain in the U.S. while their asylum cases were being processed, a procedure that often spans several years.
"CBP is aware of reports that criminal organizations in the El Paso, Texas/Juarez, Mexico areas are spreading falsehoods and putting migrants’ lives at risk for their own financial gain. These rumors are absolutely false and yet another dangerous example of bad actors sharing bad information. The border is not open to illegal migration," the CBP said in its statement.
"The way it's being orchestrated through the cartels, I believe it's meant to overwhelm the system. The [places] that are being impacted the most are border communities," said Former El Paso City Councilmember Claudia Rodriguez.
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