Apr 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Analyst says Texas Gov. Abbott's border snarls cost billions in GDP

Large commercial semi-trucks are lined up in Mexico waiting to cross into the U.S.
Cargo trucks wait to cross into the U.S. from Mexico on April 12. Photo: Herika Martinez/AFP via Getty Images.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s rule doubling the inspections for commercial trucks coming in from Mexico caused delays that cost the U.S. nearly $9 billion in gross domestic product, according to one analysis.

Driving the news: The rule, which Abbott has since rescinded, prompted fierce backlash and snarled cross-border traffic for days.

Catch up quick: Abbott, a Republican, ordered state troopers to conduct additional inspections of commercial trucks in response to the Biden administration's announcement that it would lift Title 42, a pandemic-era public health policy to rapidly expel migrants at the border, in late May.

  • Abbott claimed that drug cartels use commercial vehicles to smuggle humans and drugs into the United States.
  • Backlash against the policy grew last week as the extra inspections caused massive delays and resulted in trucker protests.
  • Abbott on Friday repealed his order after reaching an agreement with all four neighboring Mexican states.

By the numbers: Between April 6 and 15 — when the rule was in effect the U.S. lost an estimated $8.97 billion because of the delays at the border, according to an analysis by Texas-based the Perryman Group.

  • Texas lost an estimated $4.23 billion in gross product, the group found.
  • The estimates are based on a study the Perryman Group did in 2019 that examined the effects of a different border slowdown, but updated to reflect the current situation, president and CEO Ray Perryman told Axios in an email.
  • The Dallas Morning News was the first to report that Texas lost an estimated $477 million per day during the slowdown.

Abbott press secretary Renae Eze defended the inspections, saying the 5-hour average delay they caused "is hardly equivalent to President Biden's 15-month delay to secure our border."

  • She said Abbott negotiated agreements with the governors of every Mexican state that borders with Texas. The agreements require them to increase their own security efforts.
  • "Border governors are leading the way in solving border problems, and it's time for President Biden and Congress to step up and do their jobs to secure our border," Eze said.

Between the lines: Mexico is one of the U.S.'s largest trading partners, and its biggest supplier of agricultural products.

  • The U.S. relies on an intricate, but relatively speedy inspection system at the southern border typically conducted by federal authorities to get goods through.
  • The U.S. imported nearly $34 billion worth of agricultural products in 2020, according to government data.

What to watch: Perryman said he will release a more detailed breakdown of his analysis later this week.

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