Food shortages and high prices are already putting a strain on U.S. consumers. Now, gridlock at the Mexico border with Texas may make matters worse. Why are trucks backed up in Texas?
The backup at the border is primarily due to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order requiring extra inspections for all commercial trucks from Mexico. Abbott announced the increased inspections on April 6 as a way for his state to “secure the border in the wake of President Joe Biden’s decision to end Title 42 expulsions.”
Title 42 is part of U.S law that allows Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to prevent people who may pose a health risk from entering the country. Enacted in 1944, the law wasn’t used until former President Donald Trump resurrected it during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, about 2 million people have been turned away at the border.
The Biden administration plans to end the Title 42 policy next month. Abbott believes the new inspections are needed to curtail the flow of drugs, human traffickers, illegal immigrants, weapons, and other contraband into his state.
“I understand the concerns that businesses have trying to move product across the border,” Abbott said during a recent visit to a bridge crossing in Laredo. “But I also know well the frustration of my fellow Texans and my fellow Americans caused by the Biden administration not securing our border.”
Protesting Mexican truckers added to the gridlock.
Mexican truckers protesting Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star” order contributed to the gridlock on bridge crossings connecting Mexico with Texas. The blockades caused traffic delays of up to six hours in some places.
Mexican governors say Abbott’s policy is overzealous.
In a letter to Abbott, the governors of the Mexican border states of Coahuila and Tamaulipas called the inspections overzealous and warned that Abbott’s policy could increase consumer costs in an already inflated market. “Holding the border hostage is not the answer” to immigration concerns, they wrote.
“The new inspection measures are creating havoc and economic pain on both sides of the border,” the Mexican governors wrote in the letter. “If something is not done immediately, the average consumer cost will skyrocket within days. People are having trouble putting food on their tables, and these policies will make it even harder.”
On April 13, Abbott stopped inspections on the Colombia Solidarity Bridge in Laredo after reaching an agreement with the governor of the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, which is on the other side of the bridge, reports the Associated Press. Nuevo Leon Governor Samuel Garcia agreed to start checkpoints on the Mexican side of the bridge.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says extra inspections aren't necessary.
Abbott’s extra inspections of trucks hauling cargo over the Mexico-Texas border are “unnecessary” and a “political stunt,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki in an April 13 press conference. The CBP already does inspections at the border, and in 2021 alone, it seized more than 900,000 pounds of narcotics, she said.
In a White House press briefing, Psaki said, “Right now, factually, there’s over $1 million in trade crossing over the U.S.-Mexico border every minute. These actions are impacting people’s jobs and the livelihoods of hardworking families in Texas and across the country.” She also said, “CBP officers are very good at their jobs, and Texas [Department of Public Safety] does not need to replace CBP at the southern border.”