Mexican Railway Operator Temporarily Suspends Border Trains over Migrant Concerns
FAIR Take | September 2023
Last week, the Mexican train operator Ferromex suspended a number of freight routes bringing cargo into the U.S. due to “half a dozen” injuries and deaths which occurred when illegal migrants began climbing on the trains to reach the U.S. border. Migrants have been widely seen clinging to railroad car roofs or sides, or even sneaking into containers. All of this exposes them to danger. Ferromex, which operates multiple routes through Mexico to the U.S. border area, said that the suspension would apply to 60 routes.
The decision to suspend routes cannot have been taken lightly. The financial hit to both the company and the wider Mexican economy will be real given Mexico’s dependence on trade links with the U.S. Ferromex operates on 6,200 miles of track in Mexico and 26 percent of Mexico’s freight traffic is moved by train. Much of this train traffic ends at the U.S. border, where it normally continues into the U.S. By cutting routes to the U.S., Mexico’s main market, both the company and the country are taking a hit.
It was no doubt for this reason that just two days later, on September 21, Ferromex suddenly changed its position and said that certain routes would now be resumed if there was no “heightened risk” in terms of migrants. They did not define what heightened risk means, leading one to wonder if the suspension was a short-term public relations campaign. Given the widely available video of migrants riding the trains towards the U.S., company owners are no doubt aware of the problem.
Over the past few years, migrants have increasingly used trains to reach the U.S. border. It is a dangerous choice for the migrants. In March 2023, police in Knippa, Texas, found a railway car filled with 17 migrants; two had already died, and five were flown to local hospitals to be treated for heat stroke and dehydration. Just two months later in May 2023, over 200 migrants were rescued from an overheating railway car in Kinney County, Texas. Fortunately, there were no fatalities, but several migrants fled and were not accounted for.
Some in the open borders lobby use the tragic deaths of migrants to push for even easier entry rules into the U.S. This course of action would only lead to more tragedy and suffering. A compassionate immigration policy requires that illegal attempts to cross the border are stopped before they end in tragedy. Strong border security and the political will to enforce our immigration laws are the only realistic long-term solutions.
When all the train routes resume (as some already have), it is almost certainly guaranteed that migrants will once more try and use these trains to hitch a ride into the U.S. The Biden administration must pressure Mexico to do more – on a consistent basis – to stop illegal traffic into Mexico so that the inundation at the U.S. border slows. Temporary measures like these are nothing more than a band-aid.