PHARR, Texas – The City of Pharr has issued preliminary numbers on the damage done by having 100 percent of northbound commercial trucks inspected as they crossed the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge last week.
The inspections were imposed by Gov. Greg Abbott in response to a planned change in immigration policy by the Biden Administration.
According to the City of Pharr, the truck inspections policy caused average border wait times to increase to an average of ten to 12 hours. The average value of produce on each truck is $45,421. The total estimated trade value lost per day was $202 million. The total estimated trade value lost during the week the inspections were in force was $1 billion.
The planned change to federal policy – due next month – would see Title 42 removed as a means of curbing undocumented immigration. Title 42 of the United States Code deals with public health, social welfare and civil rights.
Gov. Abbott announced late last week he would stop the blanket inspection of commercial trucks coming into Texas from Mexico, in return for the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas imposing more truck inspections.
City of Pharr officials said they were were pleased to learn that an agreement had been made between the State of Texas and the State of Tamaulipas to cease enhanced DPS inspections that had been in effect since April 6, 2022.
On that date, Gov. Abbott directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to conduct enhanced safety inspections of vehicles as they cross international ports of entry into Texas. The enhanced inspections caused significant delays in commercial border crossings, increasing average wait time to approximately 10-12 hours.
According to a City of Pharr news release, Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D., city officials and staff “worked tirelessly to impress the importance of a swift resolution of the issue.” The news release said the slowdown in truck movements resulted in an economic loss of approximately $202 million in trade value lost per day, and an estimated total trade value loss of $1 billion.
“We completely understand the need for safety and security at the border. When we saw the impact that the Governor’s directive was having on our international commerce, causing significant delays and millions in economic losses, we knew we had to take immediate action and work with our partners to promote a swift resolution of the issue,” Hernandez said.
According to the City of Pharr news release, city officials “worked closely” with Abbott’s office. It said they showed the “detrimental impact the directive was having in slowing trade and commerce” at the Pharr bridge.
“City leaders also worked tirelessly with the entire Texas-Mexico Border federal and state legislative delegation, including U. S. Senator John Cornyn, Texas State Senator Juan ‘Chuy’ Hinojosa, Texas House Transportation Chairman Representative Terry Canales, and Texas State Representative Sergio Muñoz, Jr.,” the news release stated.
“Through correspondence, phone calls, and video demonstrations of the border crossing delays, Pharr took proactive measures along with our state and federal leaders to work toward a solution that would alleviate the situation.”
The news release concluded: “City of Pharr thanks our South Texas legislative delegation for their efforts to promote a mutually-beneficial resolution to this issue that protects the safety and security of our international border while keeping the flow of commercial activity functioning swiftly and effectively.”
There was no public indication the City of Pharr was working behind the scenes to end the truck inspection policy, prior to the announcement that DPS troopers would no longer be conducting blanket inspections. Nor was there any public criticism from Pharr leaders of Abbott’s policy. Indeed, no media interviews with city leaders were granted.
In its first news release after the truck inspections policy had been announced, the City of Pharr said:
“The City of Pharr is aware of Governor Abbott’s new order and directives to address our nation’s safety at our port of entry and is actively monitoring the situation and working with all partners to ensure that we are working efficiently and effectively amidst the new directives. At this time, we are working diligently with the Governor’s Office, federal officials, our stakeholders, and the business community to optimize international commerce while complying with the Governor’s order.”
In its second news release, issued Monday, April 11, the City of Pharr acknowledged that Mexican truckers had blocked the southbound lane of its bridge, in protest at Abbott’s truck inspections.
“The Pharr International Bridge is ready and open for business. We are aware of the situation in Mexico that is currently preventing the flow of commerce into the United States. We will continue to closely monitor these unfolding events and work with the proper authorities as necessary.”
In its third news release, issued Tuesday, April 12, the City of Pharr stated:
“While the Pharr International Bridge remains ready and open for business, traffic control measures have been put in place. There is a current blockade on the Mexican side of this bi-national port of entry, impeding any inbound or outbound flow of traffic. Allowing any commercial vehicles to drive onto the southbound lanes of the Pharr International Bridge would create a gridlock and a safety hazard for drivers, since they currently do not have an outlet into Mexico. The Pharr International Bridge looks forward to a quick resolution of this issue so that business operations can get back to normal and the commerce in our region can continue to thrive.”
In its fourth news release, issued Wednesday, April 13, the City of Pharr acknowledged the blockade by Mexican truckers had ended. The news release stated:
“The City of Pharr has learned that the blockade on Mexico’s side of the bi-national port of entry has ceased. We are glad to know that the situation has been resolved and that the flow of traffic, international business, and commerce in our region has resumed normal operations. We are also aware that the Texas Department of Public Safety will continue to have enhanced safety commercial truck inspections. We continue to work with all partners to ensure that operations are functioning efficiently and effectively.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge at a standstill during a weeklong blanket inspection of northbound commercial trucks, carried out by the Texas Department of Public Safety under a directive issued by Gov. Greg Abbott.
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