Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said on Wednesday that Texas has set up state-run checkpoints to stop and inspect commercial vehicles coming from Mexico in what he called an effort to curb illegal immigration.
The inspections are on top of those conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
They are aimed at finding smugglers bringing undocumented immigrants and drugs from Mexico, Abbot said at a press conference in Weslaco in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
“I know in advance this is going to dramatically slow traffic from Mexico into Texas. It is a byproduct of cartels crossing the border from Mexico into Texas,” Abbott said. “Cartels use vehicles, many of them dangerous commercial trucks, to smuggle immigrants, deadly fentanyl and other illegal cargo into Texas and onto our roadways.”
Abbott announced the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) was immediately beginning conducting enhanced vehicle inspections at 20 international crossing locations throughout Texas.
Texas DPS Chief Steve McCraw said the inspections began at 4 p.m. Wednesday. McCraw said the inspections will not take place on federal property and that probable cause is not needed to stop a vehicle for a safety inspection.
“Commercial vehicles and the trucking industry are vital to our way of life,” McCraw said from the same press conference as Abbott. “The majority of owners comply with transportation regulations. It’s our job to ensure that every commercial vehicle is safe and the driver is safe as well. If not, we’ll put them out of service.”
CBP already inspects commercial and passenger vehicles crossing the border, including enforcing customs, immigration, and agricultural laws and regulations at commercial ports of entry.
It’s unclear if the Texas DPS will be working alongside CBP.
More than 7 million commercial trucks crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in 2021, according to data from the Department of Transportation.
During the 2021 calendar year, more than $661 billion in two-way trade passed between the U.S. and Mexico, according to U.S. Census data. More than $249 billion passed through the port of entry in Laredo, Texas.
The ports of entry in Laredo, El Paso and Pharr, Texas, are three of the busiest commercial truck crossings on the border.
Texas officials also said they will begin chartering buses to send undocumented immigrants who have been detained after crossing the border to Washington.
The buses will “send these illegal immigrants who’ve been dropped off by the Biden administration to Washington, D.C. We are sending them to the U.S. Capitol,” Abbott said.
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