AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday lifted his traffic-jammed immigration order, which supported commercial trucks on the U.S.-Mexico border, after a week of intensifying backlash and fears of exacerbating economic losses.
The Republican governor dropped his new rules that had required all commercial trucks from Mexico to undergo additional inspections to stem the flow of migrants and drugs and intensified a struggle with the Biden administration over immigration policy.
Some hauliers reported that they waited more than 30 hours to cross. Others blocked one of the world’s busiest trade bridges in protest.
Abbott, who is up for re-election in November and has made the border his biggest problem, lifted the inspections in full after concluding agreements with neighboring Mexican states, which he says outline new border security commitments. The latter was signed with the governor of Tamaulipas, who earlier this week said the inspections were overzealous and wreaked havoc. On Friday, he joined Abbott and said they were ready to work together.
When Abbott first ordered the inspectionshe did not say that the repeal of them was conditional on such agreements with Mexico.
The pressure built on Abbott to retire as the gridlock on the border got worse. The American Trucking Association called the inspections “completely flawed, redundant and adding significant weight to an already strained supply chain.” A customs agency in Mexico estimated the losses at millions of dollars a day, and the manufacturer warned of empty shelves and higher prices if the order was not canceled soon.
Abbot acknowledged the trade slowdowns, but showed no signs of regret. He said he was ready to reintroduce the inspections if the Mexican states do not keep their end to the agreement.
“I do not hesitate to do so at all,” Abbott said.
The US-Mexico border is crucial to the US economy, and more of it is in Texas – about 1,200 miles (1,931 kilometers) – than any other state. Last year, the United States imported $ 390.7 billion worth of goods from Mexico, second only to China.
Trucks are inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents as they enter the country. Texas began its own inspections after the Biden administration said pandemic-related restrictions on seeking asylum at the border would be lifted on 23 May.
Abbott called the inspections a “zero-tolerance policy for unsafe vehicles” that smuggles migrants. He said Texas would take more steps in response to the end of asylum restrictions, which is expected to lead to an increase in the number of migrants coming to the border.
State troops inspected more than 6,000 commercial vehicles over the past week, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Nearly 1 in 4 trucks was pulled out of the way for what the agency described as serious violations involving defective tires and brakes.
Troopers did not show any human or drug smuggling during the inspections, said Director of Public Safety Steve McCraw. He described it as not surprising, saying cartels knew the inspections were taking place.
But migrants are stopped at ports of entry in only about 5% of CBP meetings. The vast majority cross in mountains, deserts and cities between official crossings.
The dynamics of drug seizures are different, with fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine and other hard drugs being seized overwhelmingly at official crossings instead of between them. Their compact size and lack of odor make them extremely difficult to detect.
Abbott has also chartered buses to Washington, DC, for migrants who would like to leave. The first departures happened on Wednesday, which drew criticism from the Biden administration. On Thursday, CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said Texas was moving migrants without “coordinating adequately” with the federal government.