In response to the unprecedented surge in migrant arrivals, the Biden administration has announced the reopening of four southern border ports of entry that were temporarily closed. Senior administration officials confirmed the move on Tuesday, indicating that the ports in Eagle Pass, Texas; San Ysidro, California; Lukeville, Arizona; and Nogales, Arizona, would resume operations starting Thursday.
These ports had been closed for a significant portion of December as U.S. Customs and Border Protection redirected resources to address the escalating influx of migrants. The decision to reopen comes after a record-breaking month, with Customs and Border Protection encountering over 300,000 migrants at the southern border.
On Monday, CBP reported encountering fewer than 500 migrants in the Del Rio sector of Texas, encompassing Eagle Pass. A senior administration official described this as a “significant improvement” over recent weeks, emphasizing that the closing of ports of entry was a measure taken as a last resort and not one taken lightly.
The decrease in encounters was attributed in part to increased enforcement efforts by Mexico, although specific details were not provided. Officials expressed encouragement over the enhanced enforcement measures in Mexico, contributing to the recent decline in encounters.
The Biden administration has engaged with Mexican train companies and the Mexican government, particularly in response to reports of over a thousand migrants riding on top of commercial trains in Mexico. Officials anticipate fluctuations in border encounter numbers and acknowledge reports of a migrant caravan possibly heading to the U.S. border, noting that the caravan has not moved significantly in recent days.
While the administration officials did not provide updates on Senate border funding talks, they expressed optimism about progress during the holiday break. Three lead Senate negotiators met with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday to renew discussions on the border situation.
In response to the reopening of ports, Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly issued a joint statement expressing relief, emphasizing the ongoing challenges faced by Arizona due to the closure and the broader issues in the border system. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden highlighted the urgency of addressing border protection as he departed Marine One, emphasizing the need for funding to address the situation at the southern border. Biden’s proposed $106 billion funding package is currently stalled in Congress, with Republicans insisting on tougher immigration and border policies before approving the funding.