Greg Abbott: Texas governor loosens pressure on chaos he created at Mexico border

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Several trucks wait in line to enter the United States from Ciudad Juárez.JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ (REUTERS)

Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, has removed some pressure this Wednesday from the hanging he has subjected to the state border with Mexico, a vital point for the transit of people and trade between the two countries. A few days ago, the Republican unilaterally imposed severe review operations on border bridges, through which thousands of trucks roll every day with 9,000 million dollars of perishable products for the US market. The Mexican government has warned that the protocol “importantly harms” the flow of binational trade and has caused a protest by Mexican truck drivers. The White House has joined the repudiation, considering the measures “unnecessary”, which are interrupting the supply chains of the food industry and the automotive sector.

Abbott, who will seek re-election next November against Democrat Beto O’Rourke, is one of the governors most critical of Joe Biden and is considered a close associate of former President Donald Trump. On April 6, he launched state police search operations at four border bridges. This is in response to Washington’s decision to suspend Title 42, a measure introduced by Trump during the pandemic that allows federal authorities to quickly return thousands of migrants who arrive illegally in the United States. The Biden Administration estimates that the measure will be lifted at the end of May.

Abbott’s initiative duplicates tasks already done by the federal government. In fact, local agents can’t thoroughly search transportation like federal authorities can. This has caused delays of up to five hours for many freight transport drivers. Traffic at those points has fallen by 60%, Jen Psaki, Biden’s spokeswoman, reported on Wednesday. “The governor’s actions are impacting people’s jobs and the lifestyles of working families,” she said in a statement. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a letter to the local president in which he is asked to look for “alternatives that guarantee security” on the border “without harming binational trade” and “to fully restore trade.”

The pressure has had some effect. Abbott signed an agreement this morning with his counterpart from the industrial state of Nuevo León, Samuel García, to facilitate passage on one of the four affected international bridges, the one linking Laredo (Texas) and Colombia (Nuevo León). At that point, truckers have waited three hours for a crossing that took 15 minutes before Abbott’s initiative.

The agreement requires the Government of Samuel García to review the trailers on the Mexican side at a distance of no more than 15 kilometers from the line. The state police checkpoints remain, for the time being, in Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Chihuahua, the other three states with which Texas borders and with which Abbott claims to be negotiating.

The National Chamber of Freight Transport (Canacar) calculated on Monday that there were “delays of up to 20 hours” in the crossing of cargo trucks and the commercial flow fell “more than 70%”. The organization has criticized the “inhumane” conditions in which operators must wait. Similar groups in the United States have also expressed concern.

The US Perishable Products Association ensures that 80% of fruits and vegetables remain uncrossed as of Friday. Trucks use some of the diesel to keep their boxes refrigerated for six or seven days, but after that “catastrophic damage” can come to produce from the farm, the organization’s president, Lance Jungmeyer, said in a letter dated Tuesday. April 9th.

The agreement announced this morning is hardly a respite in a State that has 1,900 kilometers of border and 28 international crossings. In the one located in Pharr County, the most important for international trade, 12 kilometers of trucks could be seen waiting in line. The calculations were that between 2,000 and 3,000 trucks awaited their entry from the city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas.

Mexico was in 2021 the main trading partner of Texas and the first destination for exports, with a trade flow of 442,000 million dollars, according to the Mexican Foreign Ministry. “The merchants are losing competitiveness and considerable income,” said Foreign Affairs on Tuesday night.

The Special Commission for Monitoring the Implementation of the T-MEC of the Mexican Senate has expressed its “deep concern” about the impact that the measure may have on binational trade. In a text addressed to the Government of Texas and signed by 16 legislators, the commission has ensured that vehicles entering merchandise from Mexico to the United States “are effectively and efficiently inspected” before crossing the border. “These additional actions only congest international bridges to the detriment of supply chains,” it read.

It remains to be seen whether the situation he created at the border affects Abbott ahead of the election. This Monday, his Democratic opponent recorded a message against the backdrop of the long line of trucks in Laredo, which was released this morning. “This that they see behind me is inflation,” said the candidate, who is seven points behind the Republican governor, according to the polls. O’Rourke, however, has criticized Biden for the decision to lift Title 42 without having a contingency plan for border towns, which have been affected by the largest wave of immigrants in decades. Crises multiply in an intense common border.

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