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Sen. Cruz Introduces Legislation to Prevent DHS from Halting Lawful Commerce to Instead Process Illegal Aliens

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, introduced the Keeping International Land Ports of Entry Open Act to prohibit Joe Biden from closing commercial ports of entry and diverting CBP staff from facilitating lawful commerce to processing illegal aliens.

Upon introducing the bill, Sen. Cruz said, “Joe Biden is harming American farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, truckers, and consumers by prioritizing welcoming illegal aliens over facilitating lawful commerce. Joe Biden’s policy of transferring CBP agents from facilitating commercial border crossings to instead welcoming in illegal aliens has caused millions of dollars of economic damage. 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.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said, “Democrats do not care about border security, and everything that the Biden administration does proves that fact to the American people. We must do everything possible to force Joe Biden to secure the border and limit his ability to make stupid decisions that hurt U.S. trade. This good bill does just that, and I urge the Senate to pass it immediately.”

 Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) said, “We cannot allow American consumers, businesses, and producers to continue paying the price for President Biden’s refusal to secure our border. The decision to shut down train traffic in December cost $250 million in commerce per day. I’m grateful to join Senator Cruz in this effort to protect our critical trade routes and provide critical oversight of any Biden administration staffing decisions that may impact American commerce.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said, “The Biden administration’s deliberate refusal to enforce the border isn't just incompetence—it’s a blatant disregard for Americans’ safety. Their attempts to obscure the magnitude of this border invasion are only adding insult to injury and causing significant economic damage. Just 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. Senator Cruz’s bill is a necessary countermeasure to hold this administration accountable for their disastrous policies and prevent them from inflicting even more damage on our country.”

John D. Esparza, President, Texas Trucking Association said, “We cannot lose sight of the fact that international trade is and will continue to be a critical component of the Texas economy well into the future. Repurposing federal employees designated to keep trade flowing at our borders for the purpose of processing migrants will only exacerbate congestion at our borders. This ultimately disrupts our supply chains in a manner that everyday Texas will feel in their pocketbooks. Good public policy can do both and Senator Cruz continues to prove that with thoughtful public policy. He understands we cannot negatively impact trade as a byproduct of addressing the immigration crisis we are facing. He knows we can secure our borders and keep critical freight moving. He continues to be a tremendous champion for economic growth and his latest policy proposal provides sound solutions for congestion at our borders, while protecting our highways. It’s important we recognize this and why the trucking industry stands in support.”

Ed Gilroy, Chief Advocacy and Public Affairs Officer, American Trucking Association said, “Millions of American jobs depend on trucks to seamlessly deliver cargo between the United States and its most important trading partners, Mexico and Canada. That’s why the efficient processing of this freight at all land ports of entry is critical to the continuity of our supply chain and our economy. Reducing staffing at checkpoints by reassigning overworked CBP officers does not solve the underlying problems at the border; it simply creates new ones. We support Senator Cruz’s effort to help ensure that cross-border trade remains a priority and that CBP retains the resources necessary to facilitate the flow of international commerce.”

Ian Jefferies, CEO, Association of American Railroads said, “As policymakers work to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis at the border, it is critical to also protect our supply chain, American businesses, and communities by keeping goods flowing between the U.S. and Mexico. Senator Cruz’s bill would help ensure safe, secure freight movements continue unimpeded across the integrated North American rail network.”

The National Feed and Grain Association and the North American Export Grain Association said, “The Keeping International Land Ports of Entry Open Act takes needed steps to ensure the free flow of trade across the U.S.-Mexico border, which is critical to food security for our countries and the region at large. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) closure of the two rail crossings in December immediately impacted the flow of grain, oilseeds and related products for both humans and livestock. Since that incident, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) have insisted that governments of both nations ensure a plan is in place to avoid shutting down rail commerce across the border. Mexico is the top U.S. export market for corn and wheat and second for soybeans. NGFA and NAEGA members devoted to ‘transforming America’s harvest’ appreciate Sen. Cruz’s efforts to keep the border open to commerce between our nations.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also supports the bill.

Sen. Cruz was joined by Sens. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) in introducing the bill.

Read the full text of the bill here.  


The Biden administration closed four border ports of entry in December, including 2 key railroad bridges  n El Paso and Eagle Pass. These closures gave the appearance that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was assisting Border Patrol. However, the CBP’s monthly updateadmitted that the agents were used to “quickly process individuals encountered.” Shutting down lawful commerce to welcome illegal aliens is unacceptable.

This decision shut down approximately $250 million in commerce per day. The agricultural sector suffered in particular from rippling effects across the network since Mexico is a large market for grain exports, with $28.5 billion in sales in 2022.

Sen. Cruz’s Keeping International Land Ports of Entry Open Act would prevent DHS from diverting staff away from ports of entry unless there is a delineated exception. The exceptions include deploying CBP agents to physically secure the border, but they do not allow staff diversions for mere administrative work like welcoming in illegal aliens.

The bill will 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. The exceptions do not allow a staff diversion to process aliens illegally entering the country.

The bill includes a built-in accountability mechanism and requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to notify the House, Senate, and the American people what exception applies if he seeks to relocate staff and close a port of entry.