Texas governor rejects calls to stop additional border controls
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday doubled down on his commitment to “enhanced” inspections at border crossings between Texas and Mexico despite international economic and political pressure to end the policy that has stalled commercial traffic, stalling the freight over miles in Mexico and messing up product shipments.
Abbott pledged to lift additional inspections only when Mexican leaders present plans to secure their side of the border.
In what he called a “historic” agreement, Abbott signed an agreement with the governor of Nuevo Leon to resume normal inspections, as long as the Mexican state reinforces checkpoints and patrols along its stretch of 12 miles from the border.
“Clogged bridges can only be ended through the kind of collaboration we are demonstrating today between Texas and Nuevo Leon,” Abbott, who was seated next to Nuevo Leon Governor Samuel Alejandro Garcia Sepulveda, said during the talk. a press conference in Laredo.
The most dramatic commercial truck saves along Texas’ 1,200-mile border have occurred at other bridges that do not share a border with Nuevo Leon. This includes the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, which has been effectively closed since Monday by protests from truckers.
“If you want relief from the clogged border, you have to call President Biden,” Abbott said Wednesday.
Abbott and Garcia announced that at the only bridge between their states, Texas soldiers would resume normal random inspections. Calling the deal “historic,” Abbott said he and Garcia agreed that since Nuevo Leon had agreed to create a new security checkpoint in Mexico to control commercial traffic, old operations could resume on the U.S. side.
Until President Joe Biden steps up his border efforts, Abbott said Texas will continue to use “its own strategies to secure the border and continue to negotiate with Mexico to find solutions.”
The delays have raised fears that a US economy already experiencing inflation and supply shortages could face an entirely new set of problems, potentially driving up the prices of some products and making other items even scarier.
“It’s not a regional problem, or that the city of Laredo doesn’t get its products from grocery stores,” said John Esparza, president of the Texas Trucking Association. “We are seeing delays that will be felt across the country. There are half a dozen trucking divisions [affected]. There’s the refrigerated trucking segment, there’s the housewares segment, there’s the forestry segment, there’s the tank trucks, the commercial commodity commodities — that’s General Motors, Ford, and whatever comes out of Mexico, our trading partner. »
Strawberries, asparagus, avocados, tomatoes and other spring favorites sit in lines of mile-long refrigerated trucks as growers and shippers scramble to reorient and grocers scramble to find supplies. products from elsewhere in order to avoid empty shelves in the run up to Easter and the Passover holiday.
GROCERY PRICE PRESSURE
Safeguarding at the border results in losses of millions of dollars a day for employers and employees, who have been inactive, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.
It also means transportation shortages are growing as available trucks line up to cross the border, which will continue to drive up the price of produce in U.S. grocery stores.
“These trucks are already being inspected by Customs and Border Protection – scanned and X-rayed and sniffed by drug dogs,” Jungmeyer said. “These new inspections are redundant. At many ports of entry – Laredo, Pharr, Eagle Pass and others – Mexican drivers are starting to protest.”
Abbott ordered “enhanced” safety inspections of all commercial trucks last week, creating a mile-long backlog at the Texas-Mexico border crossing, generating intense protests and criticism from business, business and political leaders.
Abbott ordered increased security inspections on April 6 as part of an expansion of its Operation Lone Star border security effort. The state has spent billions of dollars on the operation, which includes calling up 10,000 Texas National Guard troops and sending them to the border with state troopers.
The Republican governor unveiled the inspection plan in response to the Biden administration’s decision to end the public health order known as Title 42, which was used to quickly deport migrants at the border Mexican-American.
But the enhanced security inspections — which come on top of other inspections by federal authorities — have increased wait times at the border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says wait times for commercial crossings are now up to 12 hours, while some truckers interviewed at crossings say they’ve had to wait two or three days to cross.
“Governor Abbott’s unnecessary and redundant inspections of trucks passing through ports of entry between Texas and Mexico are causing significant disruptions to food and automotive supply chains, delaying manufacturing, affecting jobs and increasing prices for families in Texas and across the country,” the White House said. press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The continuous flow of trade and legitimate travel and [Customs and Border Protection’s] his ability to do his job must not be hindered. Governor Abbott’s actions are impacting people’s jobs and the livelihoods of hard-working American families,” the statement said.
MEXICAN GOVERNORS REACT
Four Mexican states share the border with Texas.
The governors of Coahuila and Tamaulipas issued a joint statement to Abbott on Tuesday night that said in part, “The new inspection measures are creating havoc and economic hardship on both sides of the border, and like this Quad-State area is suffering, so is Texas. and vice versa. Unfortunately, political points have never been a good recipe for addressing common challenges or threats. The letter was signed by Governor of Tamaulipas Francisco Javier Cabeza de Vaca and the Governor of Coahuila Miguel Angel Riguelme Solis, imploring Abbott to “reconsider these overzealous inspections”.
In Reynosa alone, the city across the border from Pharr, Texas, lengthy inspections hit 70% of foreign-owned factories in Mexico with losses of more than $122.9 million , said Aldo Hernandez Jacquez, spokesman for the state of Tamaulipas.
Re-election contender Abbott ordered additional security inspections after saying the Biden administration had let the country down on border security. He said Department of Public Safety employees inspecting commercial vehicles would disrupt efforts to smuggle people and drugs across the border.
The Department of Public Safety said Wednesday that the agency had inspected 4,133 commercial vehicles between the start of enhanced inspections and the end of Tuesday. It said 973 vehicles “were taken out of service for serious safety violations, including faulty brakes, faulty tires and faulty lighting. In addition, 84 commercial vehicle drivers were taken out of service.”
The agency said a total of 13,651 violations had been found. But the agency did not respond to questions about the discovery of illegal migrants or drugs.
Disruptions to normal business along the border have drawn ire from Republicans and Democrats in political and business circles. On Tuesday, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller became the most senior state official to call for an end to the inspection policy, saying it was “turning a crisis into a disaster.”
Early Wednesday, Customs and Border Protection said commercial traffic at Pharr International Bridge, Anzalduas Bridge and Progreso Bridge had come to a complete halt in both directions due to protests from truckers on the Mexican side. of the border “and due to lack of southward movement by United States carriers.”
Some traffic was seen moving again at midday at Anzalduas Bridge. Other trucks were being diverted to other crossings, but trucker protests had spread to crossings in Santa Teresa, NM on Tuesday night, blocking traffic there.
Information for this article was provided by Alfredo Corchado, Allie Morris and Dianne Solis of the Dallas Morning News (TNS), Paul J. Weber of the Associated Press and Laura Reiley of the Washington Post.