Texas takes steps to ease border congestion due to ‘sense of urgency’ | Health, Medicine and Fitness

By ACACIA CORONADO and PAUL J. WEBER – Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The truck traffic jam at the U.S.-Mexico border finally began to erupt Thursday after nearly a week as Texas Governor Greg Abbott eased his latest dramatic action on immigration that has blocked some of the world’s busiest commercial ports and taken a growing economic toll.

“There’s now a sense of urgency to make deals that didn’t exist before,” Abbott said.

The two-term Republican governor, who for days allowed commercial trucks to back off for miles in Mexico after forcing them to stop for additional inspections in Texaslifted that order for bridges in El Paso and other cities after announcing a new security deal with the neighboring Mexican state of Chihuahua.

This is not a complete repeal of Abbott’s policy that he set up on April 6 part of an ongoing struggle with the Biden administration over the flow of migrants and drugs. Additional lengthy inspections elsewhere along Texas’ 1,200-mile border — including in the bustling Rio Grande Valley — will continue, Abbott says, until similar agreements are reached with other Mexican states.

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But the deal with Governor María Campos Galván of Chihuahua, who joined Abbott for the announcement at the Texas Capitol, sets in motion the biggest relief yet for traffic that has rumbled across the Texas-Mexico border and lifted higher price warnings for US shoppers and alternate grocery shelves.

“People like me who buy millions of dollars worth of product a week are starting to limit their purchases to other parts of the country,” said Brent Erenwert, CEO of Brothers Produce in Houston, which relies heavily on imports from Mexico. .

The inspections ordered by Abbott came in response to the Biden administration announcing last month that it repeal a public health law that restricted asylum seekers in the name of preventing the spread of COVID-19. When this happens, the number of migrants coming to the United States is expected to increase.

It was the second day in a row that Abbott has lifted inspections on some bridges, starting Wednesday with Laredo, which was the busiest U.S. port of entry for trucks last year.

Traffic entering Texas through the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, where more goods cross than any other land port in the United States, also resumed after a day of protest by Mexican truckers ended.

A Mexico-based customs agency, the Reynosa Customs Agents Association, on Thursday estimated losses at the Pharr-Reynosa Bridge at $7 million a day.

So far, agreements between Abbott and the governor of Mexico have varied.

Across from Laredo, Nuevo Leon Governor Samuel García had told Abbott the state would set up checkpoints and police departments. For Chihuahua, Galvan provided a security plan that she said was in the “implementation stage” and includes agreements to share intelligence captured by security cameras and other technology. It was not clear if Campos Galvan’s security plan was already underway.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, a Republican who urged Abbott to reverse the inspection order, said Thursday that a major agricultural company told him that 100 trucks sent to Mexico for deliveries n were unable to return due to congestion.

He wondered what the denial had achieved and, in the case of Abbott’s deal with Nuevo Leon, said it didn’t seem substantial.

“They’re just going to let it go in good faith,” Miller said. “There’s no enforcement, no reckoning on that if they don’t.”

The White House, the Mexican government, trade groups and stressed businesses have called the additional inspections redundant and a new burden on an already fragile supply chain.

Abbott’s border inspections come at a time when US supply chains are already overwhelmed. A surge in customer demand – the result of a surprisingly rapid recovery from the devastating coronavirus recession of 2020 – has taken businesses by surprise and resulted in bottlenecks at factories, ports and freight stations. It also pushed up prices, contributing to the highest inflation in 40 years.

COVID-related factory closures in China and soaring costs of shipping goods across the Pacific Ocean are prompting many companies to look to Mexico, where there is no ocean to cross and where political and trade disputes between Washington and Beijing are eased.

“A lot of companies right now are looking at Mexico as a way to get around ocean dependency,” said Bindiya Vakil, CEO of supply chain consultancy Resilnc. “If I’m one of those companies, I’m looking at this new regulation at the Texas border and I’m really concerned because it means additional delays, and that was supposed to be my solution — go to Mexico and avoid the ocean. absolutely.”

The US-Mexico border is crucial to the US economy. Last year, the United States imported $390.7 billion worth of goods from Mexico, second only to China.

But as inspections taper off in Texas, Abbott says he will continue to put migrants on buses and send them to Washington, DC, calling it a message to President Joe Biden. “If he doesn’t come to the border, we’re going to bring him the border,” Abbott said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus said Thursday that Abbott was moving migrants without “adequate coordination” with the federal government. The first bus arrived on Wednesday, and Abbott said more were on the way.

Associated Press reporters Paul Wiseman in Martinsburg, West Virginia, Maria Verza in Mexico City and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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