AUSTIN, Texas – The five state senators that represent the Texas-Mexico border region have jointly written to Gov. Greg Abbott to voice concern about the enhanced inspections he has implemented at border land ports of entry.

State Sens. César J. Blanco (pictured above), Juan Hinojosa, Roland Gutierrez, Eddie Lucio, Jr., and Judith Zaffirini, would like to see the Texas-Mexico Border Transportation Master Plan (BTMP) implemented. This plan was devised by the Texas Department of Transportation. It calls for expedited inspection programs that streamline the inspection process.

The letter notes that the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1907 last year. Authored by Sen. Blanco, the legislation requires the Texas A&M Transportation Institute—in consultation with DPS and TxDOT—to conduct a study on the feasibility of co-located inspections at ports of entry in Texas.

The BTMP also identified over 84 Texas side projects that would enhance security, safety, and efficiency at our ports of entry along our border. Co-located inspection facilities and investment in these 84 BTMP security and safety projects could provide a solution to these inefficiencies, the senators write.

“An international border that is more efficient but also safer is beneficial to Texas’ competitiveness and enhances the state’s overall economic health. We respectfully ask you to reconsider your decision to increase commercial vehicle inspections at our ports of entry that are leading to delays that increase the cost of transportation and trade, reduce industry competitiveness and economic development, and negatively impact our local communities,” the letter concludes.

Here is the letter in full:


April 9, 2022

The Honorable Greg Abbott

Governor

State of Texas 

P.O. Box 12428

Austin, TX 78711-2428

Dear Governor Abbott:

As legislators who represent districts along the Texas-Mexico border, we write to express our concerns with your announcement about directing the Texas Department of Public Safety to inspect every single commercial truck coming in from Mexico at all border crossings in the state. The implementation of these enhanced safety inspections already is generating delays and stalling the movement of goods at the ports of entry.

Currently, this new policy is causing a backlog of hundreds of commercial vehicles at our ports of entry and hours of delay. The Pharr International Bridge is reporting a backlog of more than 400 commercial trucks in Mexico waiting to cross and it’s been reported that the line on the Mexican side of the Laredo bridge has grown to seven miles long. Ports of entry along the border, from Brownsville to El Paso, have already experienced significant delays in border crossing times that have substantially increased from several minutes to three to five hours. The long lines and border crossing times are a result of the new enhanced commercial vehicle inspections which reportedly take forty-five minutes for each and every commercial vehicle crossing our border bridges. These delays will lead to the loss of produce, worsen our supply chain challenges, increase costs for consumers, and will cause a significant negative impact to Texas jobs and our local and state economy along with large sums of lost revenue at our ports of entry.

Trade with Mexico is one of the most important economic drivers for Texas, and inefficiencies at the border will have an enormous impact on the economy and the everyday lives of Texans throughout the border region. Traffic congestion at ports of entry results in delays that have cost the state more than $32 billion in only three years. Texas trade with Mexico increased 40 percent between 2010 and 2019, and the Texas Department of Transportation projects that trade with Mexico will continue to increase. According to the Texas Center for Border Economic and Enterprise Development, nearly $442 billion in trade flowed through Texas ports of entry in 2021.

All vehicle traffic that passes through our ports of entry is subject to federal and state inspection— which have different processes and are conducted by different people at different locations. The Texas-Mexico Border Transportation Master Plan (BTMP), recently released by the Texas Transportation Commission, cites these disjointed inspections as a contributor for border crossing times. The BTMP calls for expedited inspection programs that streamline the inspection process. Last year the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1907, authored by Senator Blanco, to require the Texas A&M Transportation Institute—in consultation with DPS and TxDOT—to conduct a study on the feasibility of co-located inspections at ports of entry in Texas. The BTMP has also identified over eighty-four Texas side projects that would enhance security, safety, and efficiency at our ports of entry along our border. Co-located inspection facilities and investment in these eighty-four BTMP security and safety projects could provide a solution to these inefficiencies.

An international border that is more efficient but also safer is beneficial to Texas’ competitiveness and enhances the state’s overall economic health. We respectfully ask you to reconsider your decision to increase commercial vehicle inspections at our ports of entry that are leading to delays that increase the cost of transportation and trade, reduce industry competitiveness and economic development, and negatively impact our local communities.

Respectfully,

State Senator César J. Blanco, District 29

State Senator Juan Hinojosa, District 20

State Senator Roland Gutierrez, District 19

State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., District 27

State Senator Judith Zaffirini, District 21

ends


Quality journalism takes time, effort and…. Money!

Producing quality journalism is not cheap. The coronavirus has resulted in falling revenues across the newsrooms of the United States. However, The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service is committed to producing quality news reporting on the issues that matter to border residents. The support of our members is vital in ensuring our mission gets fulfilled. 

Can we count on your support? If so, click HERE. Thank you!


Keep on top of the big stories affecting the Texas-Mexico. Join our mailing list to receive regular email alerts.

Sign-up for the latest news


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Rio Grande Guardian. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact