Truckers blocked an international crossing between Tamaulipas and Texas on Monday to protest the Lone Star State’s more stringent inspection policy for commercial vehicles.
Governor Greg Abbott last week directed Texas authorities to conduct more thorough inspections of all commercial vehicles crossing into the state from Mexico in order to detect drugs and migrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally.
“Governor Abbott announced on Wednesday aggressive actions by the state of Texas to secure the border in the wake of President Biden’s decision to end Title 42 expulsions” next month, the Texas government said in a press release, referring to expulsions to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Truck drivers say that the enhanced inspections, which began last Thursday, have resulted in them being stranded at the border for up to 16 hours.
On Monday, they blocked the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge to protest the lengthy inspections, which drivers say take about 45 minutes per truck and are not conducted after 10:00 p.m., leaving truckers stranded overnight.
Truck drivers are protesting in #Reynosa about the long wait times to cross thru @PharrTx bridge. Due to gov @GregAbbott_TX ‘s order for more inspection each truck now waits around 3-4 days to cross into the US. #RGV US Customs already notified them to prepare with food, meds etc pic.twitter.com/Pfd2ve02H2
— Iris Rodriguez (@IrisNews) April 11, 2022
The bridge normally opens at 6:00 a.m. but didn’t open on Monday morning. It is is the most important point of entry for food imports to the United States.
“Colleagues have fainted from the heat in the cabin – they don’t let you get out,” one protesting trucker told the newspaper Reforma.
“A lot of colleagues suffered hunger and thirst on the first day and they couldn’t go to the bathroom. They took lunch and water the next day, but they were still unable to go to the bathroom,” he said.
“They start [the inspections] at six in the morning and they leave at ten at night. … You have to wait until the next day to unload.”
Truckers said they were previously able to take as many as three loads of freight across the border per day, but now they can only transport one load every two or three days, which affects drivers’ earnings. “You spend what you earn on food,” one trucker said.
Texas State Senator Juan Hinojosa told the news website Border Report that 3,000 trucks per day usually crossed the Pharr-Reynosa bridge into Texas, but only about 300 per day had made it across since the stricter inspection process began.
“The truckers from Mexico are upset because they don’t have food. They don’t have bathrooms to use. They’re running out of fuel and some of the produce is rotting. So they are pretty upset,” Hinojosa said.
He and other Texas senators who represent border communities sent a letter to Abbott urging him to reconsider the mandatory inspection policy for all trucks.
Nuevo León authorities said that Governor Samuel García would travel to the Laredo-Colombia Solidarity International Bridge on Monday afternoon to lobby for swifter inspections.
“They’re now inspecting 100% of trucks … and that has been delaying the entire trade flow,” said Nuevo León Regional Development Minister Marco González.
“That’s why the governor will arrive to [the border town of] Colombia today,” he said.
“We have a meeting with businesspeople and customs authorities, … [including those] from Texas to look at the problem. The governor will make an announcement of an action … that will help speed up [border crossings],” González said.
But getting the Texas government to drop or change its recently implemented policy would appear to be a difficult proposition given its tough border security rhetoric.
“The Biden Administration’s open-border policies have paved the way for dangerous cartels and deadly drugs to pour into the United States, and this crisis will only be made worse by ending Title 42 expulsions,” Abbott said last week.
“With the end of Title 42 expulsions looming next month, Texas will immediately begin taking unprecedented action to do what no state has done in American history to secure our border. The new strategies announced … will further strengthen our already robust response to the Biden border disaster, and we will use any and all lawful powers to curtail the flow of drugs, human traffickers, illegal immigrants, weapons, and other contraband into Texas,” the governor said.
With reports from Reforma, The Border Report and The Texas Tribune