April 10, 2022
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Commercial vehicles trying to enter the United States to deliver products from Mexico have been backed up for hours at Texas ports of entry following Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive on Wednesday that state troopers increase inspections.
“This continues to add disruption to our supply chain,” said Ermilo Richer, the owner of a 100-year-old logistics company in Laredo who said his trucks were taking between four and five hours to cross from Mexico. “It’s just something we don’t need right now.”
Abbott’s order is part of his push to stiffen security at the state’s southern border as the Biden administration in Washington, D.C., plans to end a pandemic-era emergency health order that had allowed federal officials to turn away migrants, even those seeking asylum. But officials in cities that depend on cross-border trade as economic engines fear negative impacts that the increased vehicle inspections could have.
“We value border security but it’s got to be weighed very carefully with the Texas economy,” said Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz. “Any slowdown in commerce at our bridges is a definite slowdown in our economy.”
On Friday afternoon, U.S. Customs and Border Protection showed five-hour delays for entry into Laredo through the Laredo-Colombia Solidarity International Bridge. The port of entry in Pharr had delays of more than four hours. El Paso’s two inland ports had delays of three hours.
Neither the Texas Department of Public Safety nor Abbott’s office responded to requests for comment.
On Abbott’s order, DPS troopers appear to be checking every one of the thousands of commercial vehicles that cross selected ports, local officials said. The trucks are pulled over to DPS checkpoints after they are inspected by CBP at the international port of entry. Abbott said he is targeting commercial vehicles because drug cartels use them to smuggle humans and drugs into Texas.
On Friday afternoon, U.S. Customs and Border Protection showed El Paso’s two inland ports had delays of three hours.
Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune
But DPS troopers can conduct only mechanical inspections, leading some, like U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, to question the efficacy of Abbott’s orders. He said DPS had told federal officials they intended to check every vehicle and each inspection could take about 45 minutes.
“I don’t know what the rationale is,” Cuellar said. “If you’re worried about too many people coming in but you can’t inspect the cargo, that doesn’t accomplish anything except make things uncomfortable and have a negative impact on commerce.”
David Coronado, managing director for international bridges and economic development in El Paso, said between 2,500 and 3,000 trucks flow between Ciudad Juárez and El Paso every day. It’s those businesses and the companies they’re servicing who will suffer because of the delays.
“The major impact right now is on trade and what it’s doing to the business …….