An order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott increasing inspections at the Mexican border is snarling commercial truck traffic coming into the U.S.
The April 6 order is part of Abbott’s plan to tighten security at the southern border as the Biden administration plans to end a pandemic-related emergency health order that allowed federal officials to turn away migrants, even those seeking asylum. But the result has been trucks backed up for hours or even days at Texas ports of entry, according to published reports, with ripple effects throughout the supply chain.
CFI told HDT that the situation is affecting cross-border freight flow.
"We currently are not seeing any freight come into our yard through the El Paso crossing," said Jason Dekker, director of international business development at CFILogistica, CFI's Mexico subsidiary. "At the Port of Laredo, it is taking drivers 10 hours to cross, even if the freight they are transporting are for CTPAT-certified shippers. Normally a drayage provider can cross three times daily. Presently, they are only able to do so once."
On Monday, April 11, Mexican truck drivers got so frustrated they started blockading bridge crossings, including two busy bridges in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and one connecting the Mexican city of Reynosa to Pharr, Texas.
Troopers appear to be checking every one of the thousands of commercial vehicles that cross selected ports, according to a report in the Texas Tribune. Abbott said he is targeting commercial vehicles because drug cartels use them to smuggle humans and drugs into Texas.
The Tribune quoted Ermilo Richer, the owner of a 100-year-old logistics company in Laredo. His trucks were taking between four and five hours to cross from Mexico. “This continues to add disruption to our supply chain,” he told the paper. “It’s just something we don’t need right now.”
Mexico is Texas’ top trading partner, with freight such as automobile parts that move back and forth across the border, machinery, electric equipment, plastics and produce.
“We are supporters of Governor Abbott, but unfortunately we weren't taken into consideration,” Ernesto Gaytan, chairman of Texas Trucking Association, told Reuters. The association has been getting calls from frustrated drivers since the order took effect.” Gaytan said migrants rarely tried to cross the border illegally via commercial trucks at legal ports of entry. “Slowing down trade isn’t the solution.”
On April 11, the Texas International Produce Association wrote a letter to the governor asking him to modify his enforcement action.
“Last night, commercial trucks crossing the Pharr International Bridges were in a miles long line that took until nearly 2 a.m. this morning to clear the bridge,” wrote Dante L Galeazzi, CEO/President of the association. “Today, the line is at a stand-still as trucks are crawling out of the import lot. Many carriers and brokers are reporting hours of non-movement…. The execution of this order has wreaked havoc up and down our supply chain and is likely to leave state store shelves with limited fresh produce supplies.
“Warehouses have staff sitting idle, with no trucks to unload. Buyers in other parts of the country cannot understand why their product is not available. U.S. trucking companies are losing money as they sit around for days with no loads to haul. I have even heard from a member that a trucking company is refusing to send trucks south of San Antonio out of concern there will be no cargo available.”
U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D) has been critical of the governor’s border truck inspection order, calling it “impractical and detrimental to our local economy” and pointing out that it exacerbates the existing supply-chain crisis.
A Texas DPS spokesperson told Reuters that since Abbott's order was issued, the agency had inspected nearly 2,400 commercial vehicles and taken 552 vehicles out of service. The spokesperson declined to say whether the effort had uncovered any smuggling attempts.
Updated 5:30 p.m. EDT to add comment from CFI.
Updated 6 p.m. CDT to correct the first name of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.