PHARR, Texas – U.S. truck drivers have been temporarily halted from crossing a major U.S.-Mexico border station in Texas after protests over the governor’s new border restrictions.
Since Monday, there has been “no southbound movements by U.S. carriers” because Mexican truck drivers are blocking the way, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official who spoke with CNN.
The protests at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, which normally processes around 3,000 trucks daily, follows a move by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office to enhance safety inspections at state border ports in response to the Biden administration plans to end pandemic-related restrictions at the border. There have also been protest-related blockages at the Ysleta/Zaragoza Bridge border crossing in El Paso, Texas.
Major trade groups say the border inspections by Texas are redundant.
Abbott’s office has said the new border rules are meant to “curtail the flow of drugs, human traffickers, illegal immigrants, weapons and other contraband into Texas” and include “enhanced safety inspections” of commercial vehicles entering the U.S. by ports of entry in Texas.
Critics say the new measures are unnecessary and driving up wait times to cross the border.
Since Sunday, the Texas Department of Public Safety has inspected 2,685 commercial vehicles at select entry ports along the Texas-Mexico border and placed 646 of them out of service for “serious safety violations,” which included defective brakes, tires and lighting, the agency said.
“Adding an additional Texas DPS inspection once trucks have crossed the border is causing serious delays with no commensurate increase in border safety,” Lance Jungmeyer, Fresh Produce Association of the Americas president, wrote Saturday to Abbott.
“Over $9 billion dollars’ worth of produce is traded through Texas,” he wrote, adding the newly announced border inspection policy has “severely impacted trade” throughout the state.
The president of the Border Trade Alliance issued a statement Sunday that warned that the Lone Star State’s new policy could eventually mean higher prices for consumer goods. The nonprofit represents a network of over 4.2 million public and private sector representatives impacted by US, Mexico and Canadian trade relations.
“We oppose any state-level action that results in an inspection process that duplicates the inspections already performed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” Britton Mullen said in her statement.
“While border states like Texas have an important role to play in ensuring truck safety and code compliance, the state should be working in collaboration with CBP, not engaging in a new inspection scheme that will slow the movement of freight, which will only exacerbate the country’s supply chain crisis and put even more upward pressure on consumer prices.”
The City of Pharr issued a state statement about 3 p.m. Monday saying that the Pharr International Bridge was “ready and open for business.” However, Pharr police officers remained at the foot of the bridge blocking all southbound traffic at 4 p.m. Monday, and no commercial traffic was making its way north, according to Border Report.
“We are aware of the situation in Mexico that is currently preventing the flow of commerce into the United States. We will continue to closely monitor these unfolding events and work with the proper authorities as necessary,” the statement from the City of Pharr read.
According to the Texas Center for Border Economic and Enterprise Development, in 2021 nearly $442 billion in trade flowed through Texas ports of entry.
And more than 65% of all produce in the United States comes over the Pharr International Bridge, officials say.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.