Texas DPS ends truck safety inspections after $1.9B impact

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott may have stopped state-run truck safety inspections at the Mexican border, but business leaders said it could be weeks before cross-border traffic patterns return to normal.
“We hope that in the next three weeks, if we continue without setbacks, there will be good progress in the usual exports, as well as exports that have been waiting,” Manuel Sotelo, vice president of the Juarez chapter of Mexico’s National Chamber of Freight Transport (Canacar), said at a Tuesday news conference in Juarez, Mexico. “In three weeks, the backlog of 24,570 exports should be resolved, possibly not 100%, but it’s a goal we can have.”
Juarez is located just across the border from El Paso, Texas.
Trade across the U.S.-Mexican border has slowed over the past several weeks as U.S. authorities shifted customs personnel to immigration duty as migrants began arriving in large numbers at border ports of entry across the country.
In addition to the migrant surge, Abbott ordered the state’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) to do safety checks at several border crossings beginning Sept. 20 on all cargo trucks, reportedly as a way to deter cartel activity across Texas.
Both the migrant surge and the Texas DPS inspections generated long lines and snarled commercial vehicles at border crossings in Laredo, El Paso, Eagle Pass, Del Rio and Tornillo, Texas.
While the migrant situation began to ease, Abbot kept the Texas DPS inspections going until Monday in El Paso. The DPS inspections ceased at the other locations last week.
Canacar officials said the safety inspections by the Texas DPS stranded 19,000 trucks carrying about $1.9 billion in goods destined for the U.S. at the Mexican border.
The DPS inspections that began in September are at least the fourth time since April 2022 that the agency has implemented the state-run commercial checkpoints. They are in addition to cross-border truck inspections conducted by Mexico customs, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Transportation.
U.S. and Mexican officials have criticized the DPS inspections as unnecessary since Texas state troopers do not have the authority to inspect cargo trailers.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Obrador sent a diplomatic note to federal officials in response to the Texas DPS inspections, blaming them for disruptions to international trade.
Sotelo and other trucking and logistics professionals at the Tuesday news conference said they have contacted both U.S. and Mexican authorities about what can be done to make sure the DPS does not implement the safety inspections again.
“On both sides of the border, we have the challenge of correcting the effects that were experienced on Mexican exports and making sure that these situations are not repeated,” Miguel Angel Martinez, Canacar’s national president, said. “We cannot forget the importance that Texas has in the commercial relationship between both countries.”
Homero Balderas, general manager for the city of Eagle Pass International Bridge System, said commercial trade flows are back to normal after several weeks of disruption. Balderas said the Texas DPS inspections were slowing cargo trucks by as much as 40%.
The Port of Eagle Pass usually sees about 850 cargo trucks a day. That number fell to roughly under 400 due to the Texas DPS inspection delays.
“Everything is luckily back to normal regarding inspections and are getting very close to the 800 trucks a day,” Balderas told FreightWaves.
In Arizona, cross-border operators said trade flows are still not back to normal after federal officials removed customs personnel from their inspection posts at the Nogales-Mariposa port of entry to help handle the influx of migrants in the area.
“Nogales-Mariposa is still operating at reduced staff,” Joshua Rubin, vice president of business development at Javid LLC, told FreightWaves.
Javid is a Nogales, Mexico-based shelter company that helps manufacturers set up operations in Mexico. Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico, are sister cities along the border.
Rubin said commercial trade and pedestrian crossings at the Nogales-Mariposa port of entry have suffered because of the reduced staffing at the ports and because of the arrival of large groups of migrants in the area.
“This past weekend, lines for people crossing were almost four hours. Normal is an hour. People were waiting in lines half a mile long,” Rubin said. “Migrant crossers are stable, as in they have not gone up or down, but we still have a lot crossing illegally.”
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