Cruz Bill Would Bar Biden’s DHS From Closing Ports, Shifting Staff

Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a bill Thursday intended to prevent the Department of Homeland Security from closing critical international land ports of entry at the southern border.  

“[President] Joe Biden is harming American farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, truckers and consumers by prioritizing welcoming illegal aliens over facilitating lawful commerce,” Cruz, R-Texas, told The Daily Signal in a statement.

“Joe Biden’s policy of transferring [Customs and Border Protection] agents from facilitating commercial border crossings to instead welcoming in illegal aliens has caused millions of dollars of economic damage,” Cruz said. “My bill ensures that lawful commerce will continue to invest in the Texas economy by prohibiting the Biden administration for closing ports of entry on the Southern border except in limited circumstances, such as physically assisting Border Patrol in detentions.”

The bill aims to protect U.S. commerce and trade coming across the border by prohibiting DHS from transferring staff from a port of entry along the border to assist with the processing of illegal aliens.  

Republican Sens. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Rick Scott of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee are co-sponsoring the bill, the aim of which is stated to be:  

To prohibit the transfer of Department of Homeland Security staff from an international land port of entry along [the] southwest border unless such transfer would not impact the processing of trade through such port of entry, such staff would be immediately replaced, or such staff are needed to actively engage in physical detentions to secure such border, and for other purposes. 

Additionally, the bill requires the DHS to notify the House, Senate, and the public 24 hours before closing ports, and to explain which of the three exceptions are being used to justify the closure.  

The Biden administration has previously pulled DHS staff from ports of entry to help Border Patrol agents process the thousands of illegal aliens crossing the southern border daily.   

Since Biden took office, more than 8.5 million illegal aliens have been encountered along America’s borders. In December alone, encounters along the southern border reached an all-time high of 302,000, nearly 10,000 a day. 

“The Biden administration’s deliberate refusal to enforce the border isn’t just incompetence—it’s a blatant disregard for Americans’ safety,” Lee said in a statement Thursday.  

The Biden administration’s “attempts to obscure the magnitude of this border invasion are only adding insult to injury and causing significant economic damage,” the Utah lawmaker said, also noting that “before Christmas last year, President Biden closed off rail operations into the United States at various points of entry—hurting businesses and Americans, in order to process more illegal aliens through the border.”  

After five days of being closed, the Biden administration reopened the rail crossings in Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 22. The crossings were reopened after Cruz sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas demanding answers as to why DHS had closed the rail crossings.  

William C. Vantuono, the editor-in-chief of Railway Age, said the railway closings were a “chokehold that cost the North American economy by some estimates as much as a quarter-billion dollars a day.”  

Cruz’s bill would prevent DHS from repeat closures in the future and, as Lee explains, “is a necessary countermeasure to hold this administration accountable for their disastrous policies and prevent them from inflicting even more damage on our country.” 

The Texas Trucking Association, American Trucking Associations, Association of American Railroads, the National Feed and Grain Association, and the North American Export Grain Association have endorsed the bill.

Ricketts applauded Cruz’s bill in a statement Thursday, saying, “We cannot allow American consumers, businesses and producers to continue paying the price for President Biden’s refusal to secure our border.” 

“I’m grateful to join Sen. Cruz in this effort to protect our critical trade routes,” the Nebraska senator said, “and provide critical oversight of any Biden administration staffing decisions that may impact American commerce.” 

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