WASHINGTON, D.C. – Hector J. Cerna, president of IBC Bank-Eagle Pass, says he could not understand why the federal government closed Del Rio International Bridge to deal with a surge of migrants crossing the Rio Grande.
In September, 2021, federal officials closed the Del Rio bridge so they could process thousands of mostly Haitian migrants at the port of entry.
But, Cerna pointed out, the migrants had crossed the Rio Grande between the ports, not at the port.
“There was 15,000 Haitian migrants that were that were trying to cross between the ports, not on the ports, and there was a decision to close that port,” Cerna said. “Ill advised. Horrible. Any business person would have not not done that.”
Cerna made his comments during a panel discussion at a conference hosted by the Wilson Center. The one-day event was titled “Building a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border Conference.” It was co-sponsored by the Mexico Institute and the Border Trade Alliance. The panel Cerna was on was discussing “Cross-Border Commerce Before and After Covid-19.”
Speaking of the decision to close Del Rio International Bridge, Cerna said: “We need better collaboration with our with the federal government… (so that) it doesn’t happen again.”
Cerna said about 500 trucks per day cross the Del Rio bridge. While the bridge was closed, truck drivers had to drive 65 miles south to cross at Eagle Pass instead.
“It was not well thought out. It (Del Rio International Bridge) was closed for seven days. It just did not make any sense, whatsoever. The port wasn’t blocked. Those folks were crossing between the ports not at the port.”
Del Rio International Bridge is owned and operated by the City of Del Rio. It accommodates vehicular, commercial and pedestrian traffic and is open for crossing 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “The International Bridge provides a safe and efficient border crossing for all citizens and is a symbol of the cross border relations that our city fosters with. Ciudad Acuña, Mexico,” the City of Del Rio’s website states. “(The Bridge) continues to have one of the shortest crossing times along the Texas-Mexico border, making it the first choice of many tourists and businesses looking to enter into Mexico through Texas.”
Here is an audio recording of Cerna’s remarks. The recording also features, briefly, the analysis of Kenia Zamarripa, executive director of international business affairs for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Editor’s Note: The above audio story is the first in a four-part series based on the Mexico Institute and Border Trade Alliance sponsored “Building a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border” conference.
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