Updated Apr 13, 2022 - Economy & Business

Gov. Abbott doubles down on new inspection rule for truckers at Texas border

Trucks.
Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Commercial truckers bringing in produce and other goods from Mexico are protesting a new rule by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requiring additional inspection, resulting in extremely long wait times and the shutdown of at least one border crossing.

The latest: Abbott announced Wednesday that he will end the mandate at the Laredo border crossing to Nuevo León after Nuevo León Gov. Samuel García agreed to bolster border security in Mexico. Other ports of entry must continue to adhere to the order, which the Texas Trucking Association slammed earlier in the day.

  • Mexico is the U.S.'s biggest source of agricultural imports, and the U.S. relies on an intricate, but relatively speedy inspection system at the southern border to get goods through.
  • The U.S. imported nearly $34 billion worth of agricultural products in 2020, according to government data.

Details: Abbott, a Republican running for re-election, last week ordered state troopers to conduct additional inspection of commercial trucks in response to the Biden administration's lifting of a policy that turned asylum-seekers away in the name of public health, which takes effect in May.

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection is already in charge of inspections; Abbott's order just doubled the effort.
  • CBP said on Tuesday commercial traffic has dropped by as much as 60% since the governor's mandate.
  • It also called the additional searches unnecessary and said "they're leading to traffic disruptions and critical impacts to an already-strained supply chain."

The big picture: Cross-border trade is crucial as supply chain issues continue to impact Americans.

  • Dante L. Galeazzi, CEO and president of the Texas International Produce Association, wrote in a letter to Abbott that his policy "has wreaked havoc up and down our supply chain and is likely to leave state store shelves with limited fresh produce supplies."
  • "Border security is an important element of this region, but so is the trade that keeps millions of Texans employed. According to a study from Texas A&M, fresh produce arriving from Mexico not only employs nearly 8,000 Texans but is also responsible for $850M in economic impact to the state," Galeazzi wrote.
  • Even some members of Abbott's own party oppose the decision.

Bottom line: Truckers are waiting over a day in their cars, in high temperatures, to bring goods into the U.S, per the Texas Tribune. Some have been protesting.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with CBP's statement.

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