Truck drivers have blocked two key border crossings in Texas to protest Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to implement state-run checkpoints to inspect northbound commercial vehicles arriving from Mexico.
Protests began Monday on the Mexican side of both the Ysleta/Zaragoza Bridge in El Paso and the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, which connects the Mexican city of Reynosa to Pharr, Texas.
“There is no commercial traffic flow at the Ysleta/Zaragoza facility [Tuesday] morning because of the blockade continuing in Mexico,” Roger Maier, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told FreightWaves.
Abbott announced increased border security measures last Wednesday aimed at stopping large numbers of migrants crossing into the state illegally.
Abbott has set up state-run checkpoints operated by the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop and inspect commercial vehicles coming from Mexico at Texas border crossings in Laredo, El Paso, Pharr and Eagle Pass.
The inspections are on top of those already conducted by CBP and U.S. Border Patrol.
Due to the added measures, truck drivers in Mexico reportedly are waiting in line for inspection as long as 15 hours without food, water or access to bathrooms.
“We’re desperate because we have to wait up to 15 hours to cross into the United States,” truck driver Pedro Gonzalez told Reuters Monday during the protest at El Paso’s Zaragoza bridge.
The Ysleta/Zaragoza port of entry is the main bridge for commercial trucks crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso and saw about $5.3 billion in trade during February.
Maier said protesters in Mexico are blocking both northbound and southbound commercial traffic lanes at the Ysleta/Zaragoza bridge.
El Paso also has the Bridge of Americas, which is geared toward passenger vehicles but also processes some commercial traffic. The bridge is currently registering wait times of about 105 minutes, according to CBP.
“We’re addressing the traffic as it arrives. The nearby [port of entry] in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, has cargo facilities,” Maier said. “We’ve expanded our hours there to allow some overflow of some of this traffic that would normally cross at the Texas/El Paso crossings, but it’s a bit of a haul for the trucks.”
Protests also erupted Monday at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, Armando Taboada, assistant director of CBP field operations at the Laredo Field Office, said in an email to the trade community Tuesday.
Both southbound and northbound commercial traffic has been blocked in Pharr, which is the No. 1 border crossing in the U.S. for imported Mexican produce. More than 65% of all imported produce in the U.S. comes over the bridge, including avocados, strawberries, blueberries, pineapples and tomatoes.
“The Mexican and U.S. carriers want to meet with representatives from the Texas Department of Public Safety and Gov. Abbott to voice their concerns. Commercial traffic will not be able to cross into the U.S. and into Mexico while the protest is ongoing,” Taboada said.
Taboada said northbound commercial trucks arriving into the U.S. from Mexico have also been slowed at the Colombia-Solidarity Bridge in Laredo.
Mexico is currently the No. 1 trading partner of the U.S., with trade totaling $56.25 billion in February. Between 30,000 and 50,000 commercial trucks a day pass between the U.S. and Mexico, the majority occurring at Texas ports of entry.
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