Mexican truck drivers at a crossing point on the Texas-Mexico border have come to a standstill as these drivers blockaded bridges at the U.S. border for the second day on Tuesday, as a protest of Republican Texas Governor Gregg Abbott’s new rule allowing state troopers to inspect commercial vehicles crossing into the U.S. This new order by the Governor was meant to increase safety inspections, but has snarled traffic and led business groups to warn of supply chain disruptions.
Mexico’s government said in a statement they “reject” the inspections imposed by Texas, estimating that two-thirds of normal trade was being held up and costing “significant revenue” for both U.S. and Mexican businesses.
The slowdowns began after Abbott ordered officials last week to conduct vehicle safety inspections at entry ports to uncover smuggling of people and contraband. One Mexican driver who was protesting at the Santa Teresa bridge connecting San Jeronimo, Chihuahua, to Santa Teresa, New Mexico said, “Yesterday it took me 17 hours to cross into the U.S. and return.”
Both sides of the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, the most trafficked trade crossing in the Rio Grande Valley, were blocked by the truckers Tuesday for the sixth day in a row, according to multiple news sources. Drivers had parked their trucks and began barbecuing on the Mexican side of the port of entry, according to photos sent to Reuters.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. side of the bridge is closed without reopening in sight, as 500 truckers block border entrances from the U.S. to Mexico.
Another Mexican driver complained saying, “I get paid the same whether it takes me an hour or ten hours to cross, so this is affecting us a lot, noting he and his co-workers would target more bridges if delays continued.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a statement the long waits were due to “additional and unnecessary inspections” order by Abbott and were causing “critical impacts to an already-strained supply chain.”
The new measures have infuriated industry groups, which have warned of shortages of perishable products over the Easter holiday weekend. Many of the trucks at a standstill our refrigerated trailers that run on diesel fuel and if they run out of fuel the products, the perishable products will be lost.
Democratic U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, whose district includes most of El Paso, tweeted on Tuesday, “This plan is exacerbating our already disrupted supply chain, and will cripple an economy that relies so heavily on cross-border trade.”
Mexico’s National Chamber of Freight Transportation estimated the delays at the Pharr bridge alone caused economic losses of $8 million per day and called on Abbott to withdraw the order to prevent a “collapse in international cross-border trade.”
The state inspections are in addition to federal inspections and have not regularly been ordered. Abbott’s order came shortly after the Biden administration said it would end Title 42 restrictions on immigration.