After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered state troopers last week to begin inspecting commercial trucks bringing produce and other goods into the state from Mexico, a job already performed by federal Customs and Border Enforcement agents, truck traffic backed up for miles as the wait to cross the border jumped significantly, The Texas Tribune reported Monday.
At times, the Tribune reports, “troopers appear to be checking every commercial vehicle that crosses select international bridges, with each inspection taking between 45 minutes and an hour.” Mexican truckers have blocked traffic at key border crossings in protest, making the wait time even longer.
“The bridge connecting Pharr and Reynosa is the busiest trade crossing in the Rio Grande Valley and handles the majority of the produce that crosses into the U.S. from Mexico, including avocados, broccoli, peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes,” the Tribune reports. “International bridges elsewhere in the Valley, as well as in Eagle Pass, El Paso, and Laredo, have also seen delays, with many commercial products produced in Mexico — like electronics, vehicle parts, and medical instruments — also held up.”
Abbott said he was ordering the Department of Public Safety to inspect trucks in response to the Biden administration’s phase-out of using Title 42, a temporary public health measure, to immediately deport Central American migrants to Mexico. Drug cartels use commercial trucks to smuggle people and drugs in the U.S., Abbott said.
Truckers told Reynosa’s El Mañana newspaper they had waited there or four days at the border bridge and were running out of fuel. “We are losing just as much as them,” one trucker said. “When they start needing more produce, the prices are going to go up.”
Lawmakers and officials along the border said Abbott’s order was hiring business. “There are security issues, but that’s why our federal partners are there,” Teclo Garcia, economic development director for Laredo, told the Tribune. “Of course, this is going to affect Laredo, El Paso, and Brownsville, but the real impact is going to be in the supply chain, which is already strained, and the consumer.”
“Many of my constituents are asking ‘Why are we being punished?’ The Valley supports border security, but this doesn’t seem to have much or anything to do with border security,” state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D) said Monday. “This is hurting people in their pocketbook.” Abbott’s office didn’t respond to the Tribune’s request for comment.