Gov. Greg Abbott order stalls commercial traffic at US-Mexico border

Border wait times for commercial trucks at El Paso ports of entry emerged after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered enhanced state inspections, sparking a domino effect of disruptions to the manufacturing supply chain that could soon hit US factories, consumers and the Texas economy.

Late last week, the Texas Department of Public Safety began inspecting nearly every commercial vehicle that crossed the US border after it cleared federal customs. The second layer of inspections on April 11 generated a bottleneck, and truck drivers reporting wait times between four and 12 hours at area ports of entry.

Commercial trucks wait to enter the US at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry in New Mexico on April 11, 2022.

Business leaders say the wait times are jeopardizing just-in-time delivery of auto parts to US assembly plants and delaying the shipment of consumer goods to US stores.

A DPS spokesman didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. A US Customs and Border Protection spokesman in El Paso declined to comment on the enhanced DPS inspections.

Miriam Kotkowski, president of Tecma Transportation Services, manages a fleet of 80 commercial vehicles that move goods between Mexican maquilas and US stores and factories. The business is an arm of the El Paso-based Tecma Group of Companies, a manufacturing service provider that operates more than 35 plants in Juárez employing about 9,000 people.

Texas Gov.  Greg Abbott speaks to the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition on Monday, April 11, 2022, in El Paso.

She said the additional inspections are creating a “tremendous” disruption.

“It is inhumane to keep (drivers) 12 hours in a line with no access to bathrooms or food,” she said. “What can I say? It’s hurting the economy. It’s hurting the image of Texas.”

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Abrupt policy changes at the US-Mexico border can quickly rattle the supply chain, end to end.

On April 6, Abbott issued a two-paragraph order to DPS Director Col. Steven McCraw “to conduct enhanced safety inspections of vehicles as they cross international ports of entry into Texas. These inspections should begin immediately to help ensure that Texans are not endangered by unsafe vehicles and their unsafe drivers.”

Commercial trucks wait to enter the US at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry in New Mexico on April 11, 2022.

The order was one of several steps Abbott declared he would take in response to the Biden administration’s April 1 decision to lift a pandemic-era policy known as Title 42. The policy, issued and now rescinded by the Centers for Disease Control effective May 23, requires border agencies to quickly expel migrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in border holding stations.

Abbott said the extra state inspections were one of several “aggressive actions by the State of Texas to secure the border in the wake of President Biden’s decision to end Title 42 expulsions.”

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