U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has put forward a bill to prevent federal authorities from closing ports of entry for the purpose of processing unauthorized border crossers, deliberately safeguarding lawful commerce flows. This move echoes concerns from the trucking industry over economic disruptions caused by port closures.
The legislation: Named the "Keeping International Land Ports of Entry Open Act," it would restrict the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from reallocating personnel away from ports unless it can guarantee no impact on commercial processing, immediate staff replacements, or for directly supporting border security operations.
Economic impact: Senator Cruz pointed to December 2023 incidents where four ports were closed, resulting in a daily loss estimated at $250 million. These actions hindered trade and had notable effects on the agriculture sector and supply chains, according to Senator Cruz's press release.
Support and criticism: The bill has gained backing from several industry groups, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations, underscoring the bill's alignment with truckers' interests in maintaining streamlined border commerce.
- Ed Gilroy, ATA's Chief Advocacy and Public Affairs Officer, emphasized the critical role of efficient border operations in sustaining the supply chain and the economy.
The big picture: The legislation underscores a continued debate over border security and immigration policy, weighing the balance between national security and economic stability across U.S. southern border states.
Senators Pete Ricketts, Rick Scott, Mike Lee, and Marsha Blackburn join Cruz in co-sponsoring the bill, which integrates an accountability clause requiring DHS to report port closure rationales to Congress and the public.
What's next: The bill's progression will be closely observed by the trucking industry and cross-border trade stakeholders, as it directly addresses operational continuity at U.S.-Mexico ports vital for America's trade and transportation sectors.