Mexico-US trade flows checked as borders become pressure points

Source: The Loadstar
Date: 25th September 2023

Mexican officials are trying to stem the flow of migrants headed for the US, which has forced the suspension of some rail operations and truck processing at major border crossings.

The number of people trying to reach the US has soared recently; according to TV news station CNN, over 8,600 migrants crossed the border within 24 hours.

Officials on both sides of the border have been trying to get the situation under control – during the weekend there was a major enforcement effort to prevent people from boarding freight trains going to the US. According to various reports, a rising number of families with children are attempting to reach the US via Mexico.

During negotiations with the US that carried on into the weekend, the Mexican authorities pledged to deport migrants from border cities to their home countries and take actions to deter others, part of a pledge to ease the pressure on crossing points as well as try to stem the flow of migrants from further south.

Mexican government agencies are collaborating with US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) and Ferromex, the country’s largest rail operator.

Ferromex suspended 60 of its train routes last week, largely halting service to the US border, citing half a dozen accidents and fatalities involving migrants. It said it would not resume service on routes where there was a risk of more such accidents.

Halting train operations means losses of up to 40m pesos ($2.32m) a day for Ferromex, its management said.

Other operators have also been affected. Union Pacific announced last Wednesday that 2,000 rail cars were marooned due to the temporary closure of the crossing at the Texas town of Eagle Pass after the mayor declared an emergency. The US railroad announced an embargo for freight moving to Eagle Pass.

Truck processing has also been disrupted at major road crossings as CBP shifted personnel to help with processing migrants. This was on top of some 800 agents dispatched by the Department of Homeland Security to border crossings.

At the Bridge of the Americas, at El Paso, which processed over 161,000 trucks last year, the governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua said the suspension of CBP service would hit at least 600 trailers a day, “which could represent approximately $33m a day”.

Truck processing was also temporarily halted in San Diego as agents were reassigned to processing people.

The Mexican Association of Railways warned that the border service interruptions also affected domestic supply chains. Agricultural traffic, construction materials, car production and general cargo distribution will suffer, it pointed out.

The authorities appear to share this concern. On Friday, Mexico’s foreign ministry urged the US government not to take “unilateral measures” that would complicate trade.

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