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It’s affecting maquiladoras. It’s affecting small companies. It’s affecting pretty much every industry that lives on the border.
U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez and a chorus of others including the Texas Border Coalition and the truckers themselves on Thursday urged Gov. Greg Abbott to call off blanket inspections of Mexican trucks at two crossings that were wreaking chaos across the border.
At the Veterans International Bridge at Los Tomates, Javier Saldivar Guerrero, a delegate of the truckers organization CANACAR, said inspections of every single Mexican commercial truck crossing into Brownsville was creating wait lines nearly 20 miles long.
“We are pretty much taking over the city of Matamoros. We are blocking houses, neighborhoods, businesses, freeways, places that do not have the infrastructure to carry a lot of trucks,” Saldivar Guerrero said at the Texas Department of Public Safety inspection station on the Brownsville end of the Veterans bridge.
Wait times were running about 27 hours in a city known for cartel-related violence, he said.
“It’s affecting maquiladoras. It’s affecting small companies. It’s affecting pretty much every industry that lives on the border,” Saldivar said.
Late Thursday, DPS spokeswoman Maria Montalvo confirmed the inspections started earlier this week on orders from Abbott.
“This has absolutely nothing to do with immigration,” she said. “This is for safety purposes. We’re focusing on safety.”
She said Abbott ordered the inspections in response to a fiery crash that occurred April 15 on the northbound Toll Road 550 in Brownsville after a tractor semi-trailer carrying “hazardous-flammable material” and traveling at an unsafe speed crashed into a concrete barrier, rolled on its side and exploded in flames.
Montalvo said Abbott ordered Level I inspections at the Veterans bridge and the Free Trade International Bridge at Los Indios.
“They’re checking everything from the cargo to the undercarriage to the driver. They’re pretty much following following federal regulations,” she said.
Gonzalez represents the 34th Congressional District, which includes both bridges. He sent Abbott a letter reminding him of the economic impact from a year ago of a similar inspection regime at the Pharr International Bridge.
“Your catastrophic policies requiring additional and unnecessary inspections in April of 2022 cost the state of Texas an estimated $477 million per day. Our communities should not have to pay the price of your failure. The efficient flow of cross-border commerce is critical to our nation’s economic stability, and additional, uncoordinated inspections will significantly impact local supply chains in Texas and across the United States. The Veterans International Bridge at Los Tomates and the Free Trade International Bridge at Los Indios, where these inspections are taking place, have already started to see negative impacts on consumers and businesses and are reportedly experiencing eight-to-10-hour delays. These two ports of entry account for more than $10.5 billion in cross-border commerce annually,” the letter stated.
Meanwhile, the Texas Border Coalition also characterized the inspections as unnecessary.
In a letter to Abbott, El Paso County Commissioner and TBC Chairman David Stout said the beefed-up safety inspections at the two bridges threaten to harm those whose business depends on trade with Mexico.
“Trade with Mexico is one of the most important economic drivers for Texas, generating more than $650 billion in economic activity in 2021,” Stout said. “That is why any type of obstacle to trade is harmful for the state and the lives of the people in it.”
The commissioner noted that the ever-growing trade relationship with Mexico must be met with efficiency to foster its growth.
“An international border that is more efficient but also safer is beneficial to Texas’ competitiveness and enhances the state’s overall economic vitality,” Stout said.
Montalvo said DPS would continue to conduct the inspections until Abbott says otherwise.