Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen on Monday authorized Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to commence with redeploying officers along the southern border to assist with managing the recent mass arrival of Central American immigrants.
“We will not stand idly by while Congress fails to act yet again, so all options are on the table,” Nielsen said in a statement. “We will immediately redeploy hundreds of CBP personnel to the border to respond to this emergency.”
She added that DHS will “require those seeking to enter the United States to wait in Mexico until an immigration court has reviewed their claims.”
Currently, CBP plans to dedicate up to 750 officers from its Office of Field Operations to immigration activities along the southern border with Mexico.
In addition, CBP has been authorized by DHS to immediately expand the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) which return immigrants to Mexico to wait during their pending U.S. immigration proceedings.
Meanwhile, trade associations were alarmed late last week when President Donald Trump threatened to close the U.S. land border ports of entry along the southern border this week if the Mexican government failed to control the flow of Central American migrants moving across its borders to the U.S.
“We share the administration’s concerns over the massive influx of migrants seeking to enter our country along our southern border,” said Neil Bradley, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president and chief policy officer. “We oppose, however, closing the border.”
National Association of Manufacturers Chief Economist Chad Moutray estimated more than 21,000 U.S. manufacturers currently ship to Mexico, accounting for $265 billion of goods exports in 2018.
“Even threatening to close the border to legitimate commerce and travel creates a degree of economic uncertainty that risks compromising the very gains in growth and productivity that policies of the Trump Administration have helped achieve,” Bradley said.
The slowdown of commerce at the U.S.-Mexico border due to the reallocation of CBP personnel from the ports of entry across the region is already being felt by U.S. industries. CBP is expected to close of truck processing lanes at the Texas ports of El Paso and Laredo, as well as at Tucson, Ariz. and San Diego.
CBP announced that it will also close the Tucson port of entry to commercial traffic on Sundays for the foreseeable future, a major setback to the logistics operations of fresh fruit and produce shippers that use this Arizona port crossing on a daily basis.
“Disruptions of weeks, days or even hours cut supply chains meaning lost wages and lost revenues,” the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association said in a statement Monday. “Already, inspection delays are being felt from El Paso to San Diego costing farmers, truck drivers and companies of all sizes.”