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Customs closed and  million in daily losses: Immigration crisis hits trade between Mexico and US |  economy

Customs closed and $35 million in daily losses: Immigration crisis hits trade between Mexico and US | economy

The increase in migrants seeking to move from Mexico to the United States has paralleled the flow of bilateral trade. There is also an economic side to the human drama. Railway companies have been forced to shut down their routes to prevent more migrants from boarding cars, while authorities have opted to close toll plazas in Chihuahua, blocking the entry and exit of thousands of freight-laden trucks. The nation’s chambers of commerce have already estimated the effects of the latest immigration crisis, which has been ongoing for more than a week, at more than $1.2 billion.

The Mexican employers’ association, Copermex, warns that the temporary closure of some border crossings with Texas could seriously damage exporting and importing companies across the country, particularly in Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas. “The Bridge of the Americas connects Ciudad Juarez to El Paso, Texas, where 1,500 freight trucks are stranded. The effects on the national economy are enormous, with temporary closures of the Bridge of the Americas costing $35 million a day,” the employers’ association said in a written statement. Closed Last week, the city of Eagle Pass declared a state of emergency due to the influx of thousands of migrants.

As the number of migrants trying to enter the US rises, the state of Texas has tightened customs checks at the northern border, slowing the passage of 10,000 cargo trucks with exports and imports. According to the National Chamber of Cargo Transportation (CANACAR), the suspension of these shipments last week represents an economic loss of more than $1.2 billion. The union warns that the closure of customs, mainly in Chihuahua, will force transporters to look for new routes, increasing their logistics costs.

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A migrant carries water near the US border in Ciudad Juárez this Monday.Jose Luis Gonzalez (Reuters)

Although Mexico has always been a country for migrants, businessmen and freight drivers recognize that the tide has clearly increased in the past fortnight. Eduardo del Río, Communications for Canacar, emphasized that closing customs points to stop these crossings causes delays of 4 to 10 hours for cargo drivers. “83% of the value of exports and imports with the US goes through freight. There are over 1.2 million freight vehicles in the country, all of which ply their way north. It is still very difficult to get the total volume, but we will get it in the next few days,” the manager advances.

The ban on goods transiting to the US is not limited to cargo. Last week, Ferromex, the main rail freight company in Mexico, decided to stop about 60 trains bound for its neighbor to the north due to the harassment of more than 4,000 migrants trying to board its coaches. People come mainly from Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador, Haiti and El Salvador. At the time, the company, part of the Grupo México group, warned that it could not guarantee safety on tracks and railway crossings given the pressure from migrants. At this time, the company has moved these trains only as far as possible.

Trucks line up on the border bridge from Ciudad Juárez to Santa Teresa (New Mexico) on September 26.
Trucks line up on the border bridge from Ciudad Juárez to Santa Teresa (New Mexico) on September 26.Jose Luis Gonzalez (Reuters)

The National Migration Agency (Inami) was forced to meet with the agency to propose an emergency plan to deal with the surge in migrants. Inami has decided to add more federal immigration agents to the railroad, while the company has also increased its private security component. Analysts have already estimated the company’s daily loss at 40 million pesos.

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Despite these measures, the flow of thousands of migrants continues to pass through Mexico in an attempt to reach the United States.From immigration offices filled with asylum seekers in Tapachula (Chiapas) to caravans of stranded migrants in Pietras Negras (Coahuila), waiting for trains to run again. All are images of a migrant drain that has overwhelmed authorities in Mexico and the United States.

If toll gates and border bridges continue to be closed, the economic damage will reach the Macladoras. According to some newspapers in the north of the country, maquiladoras are already preparing alternative ways to transport their goods. Industries affected by the dry logistics shutdown include home appliances, motorcycles and auto parts assembling industries.

Inami agents carry out an operation to detain migrants on the banks of the Rio Grande in Ciudad Juárez on September 24.
Inami agents carry out an operation to detain migrants on the banks of the Rio Grande in Ciudad Juárez on September 24.Jose Luis Gonzalez (Reuters)

The setback in bilateral trade due to the migrant crisis comes at a time when Mexico has overtaken China and Canada as the United States’ main trading partner. In the first half of this year, Mexican companies shipped a record $236 billion worth of goods to the United States, up 5.4% from the same period in 2022, according to official U.S. statistics.

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