• Ben Szalinski
    DEC 21, 2023


    Illinois business groups concerned by decision to close rail lines into Texas 

    The Illinois Capitol 

    Illinois business groups are sending letters to federal officials worried about the economic effects from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) decision to close two rail crossings into Texas to reduce illegal entries into the United States.  

    The business groups, the Chamber of Commerce, Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) and Manufacturers’ Association (IMA), sent letters this week to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and CBP Comm. Troy Miller asking the Biden Administration to reverse the border closing, especially in the middle of the busy Christmas shipping season.  

    “These closures are creating great economic harm to our nation’s manufacturers, farmers, and consumers, and these routes should immediately be reopened to protect commerce and prevent further damage to our economy,” the letter shared with The Daily Line from IRMA, IMA, Chemical Industry Council of Illinois and 15 other business groups from around the country, said.  

    CBP closed two rail crossings in Eagle Pass and El Paso after detecting a surge in people getting smuggled into the country on trains, Reuters reported. But business leaders say these locations represent 45 percent of border crossing for BNSF and Union Pacific railroads. 

    “These closures will be particularly harmful to businesses and customers in Illinois in need of grain, auto parts, and consumer goods like beer and TVs,” Chamber of Commerce CEO Lou Sandoval’s letter to Durbin said. “This closure is particularly strenuous for businesses in our state due to its proximity to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.” 

    Durbin’s office did not respond to a request for comment.  

    “Every day that the border is closed, American railroads are forced to embargo goods on nearly 100 trains and 10,000 rail cars,” IRMA and IMA’s letter said. 

    The business groups said the railroads are doing their part to combat human smuggling with x-ray technology that monitors their freight cars in addition to law enforcement that is employed by the railroads. CBP said the closures were necessary to redirect agents to other places to process migrants and take them into custody.   

    “The Illinois Chamber and our member companies understand this is a complex humanitarian crisis and have long advocated for meaningful immigration reform,” Sandoval said. “However, we are troubled by the adverse impact these supply chain disruptions will have on businesses and consumers in our state at a critical time of the year.” 

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