Illinois business groups warn of economic shockwave from closed border rail lines



(The Center Square) – Several Illinois business groups are joining groups from 16 other states in asking the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to reopen a busy rail crossing with the southern U.S. border.

CBP suspended rail crossings at El Paso and Eagle Pass, Texas, on Monday because of the continued influx of migrants. The agency said in a statement they observed a resurgence of smuggling organizations moving migrants through Mexico and they’re shifting resources to address the issue and take migrants into custody.

“CBP is continuing to surge all available resources to safely process migrants in response to increased levels of migrant encounters at the Southwest Border, fueled by smugglers peddling disinformation to prey on vulnerable individuals,” a CBP statement said Sunday.

On Wednesday, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President Mark Denzler joined two other Illinois business groups and organizations from 16 other states asking the rail line to be reopened. He said the stoppage will send shockwaves across the economy, especially heading into the holidays.

“The intermodal port for example, where they’re unloading here and they’re trying to put them on trucks and move them around. Well, if loads aren’t coming in then you have truck drivers that are sitting that don’t have anything to do, so this has a ripple effect on the economy,” Denzler told The Center Square.

That area of rail traffic transports a lot of goods for American consumers and businesses, Denzler said. The two crossings carry around 45% of BNSF and Union Pacific rail traffic between the two countries.

“There’s beer for example that’s coming across the border just sitting there,” Denzler said. “Food products or grains potentially could spoil if it sits there too late. Americans who are looking for consumer products, who are looking to buy that electronic or that automobile may not be able to find it at their store because it’s sitting right now.”

Other Illinois groups that signed onto the letter are the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois.

Denzler said they understand there needs to be a solution to the border crisis and the railroads are doing their part.

“They’re willing to step up and provide additional resources to ensure the safety and security at these crossings if need be, and they’ve offered that to Customs and Border Patrol,” Denzler said. “For the flow of commerce, we need to make sure that these are open full time or at a minimum windows where the trains can roll through at certain times.”

Alongside the Illinois groups asking the lines be reopened are organizations from Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Wisconsin and 11 other states.

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