Texas Halts Inspections That Led to Border Gridlock

Truckers block the entrance into the Santa Teresa Port of Entry in Ciudad Juarez
Truckers block the entrance into the Santa Teresa Port of Entry in Ciudad Juarez going into New Mexico on April 12. (Omar Ornelas /The El Paso Times via Associated Press)

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AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on April 15 repealed his traffic-clogging immigration order that backed up commercial trucks at the U.S.-Mexico border, after a week of intensifying backlash and fears of deepening economic losses.

The Republican governor dropped his new rules that had required all commercial trucks from Mexico to undergo extra inspections to curb the flow of migrants and drugs and ratcheted up a fight with the Biden administration over immigration policy.

Some truckers reported waiting more than 30 hours to cross. Others blocked one of the world’s busiest trade bridges in protest.

Abbott, who is up for reelection in November and has made the border his top issue, fully lifted the inspections after reaching agreements with neighboring Mexican states that he says outline new commitments to border security. The last one was signed April 15 with the governor of Tamaulipas, who this week said the inspections were overzealous and created havoc.

When Abbott first ordered the inspections, he did not say lifting them was conditional on such arrangements with Mexico.

Pressure was building on Abbott to retreat as gridlock on the border worsened and frustration mounted. American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear called the inspections “wholly flawed, redundant and adding considerable weight on an already strained supply chain.”

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The U.S.-Mexico border is crucial to the U.S. economy and more of it is in Texas — roughly 1,200 miles — than any other state. The United States last year imported $390.7 billion worth of goods from Mexico, second only to China.

Trucks are inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents upon entering the country. Texas began its own inspections after the Biden administration said pandemic-related restrictions on claiming asylum at the border would be lifted May 23.

Abbott called the inspections a “zero-tolerance policy for unsafe vehicles” smuggling migrants. He said Texas would take several steps in response to the end of the asylum restrictions, which is expected to lead to an increase in migrants coming to the border.

State troopers inspected more than 6,000 commercial vehicles over the past week, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Nearly one in four trucks were pulled off the road for what the agency described as serious violations that included defective tires and brakes.

The agency made no mention of the inspections turning up migrants or drugs.