MCALLEN, Texas – The McAllen Economic Development Corporation held their April meeting wherein the aftermath of Gov. Abbott’s executive order instructing Texas Department of Public Safety officers to inspect all vehicles crossing from international ports of entry was discussed.
In his report, MEDC President and CEO Keith Patridge cited a survey taken among maquilas that estimated a lost of $115 million a day within that industry alone while the order was in effect.
“If it had continued, it would have impacted us substantially, both from a reputation standpoint and the ability to continue to do business,” said Patridge.
Enrique Castro, president and owner of Mercorp-Inc., spoke on behalf of maquiladora association INDEX Reynosa. He said the 12-hour wait to cross the border forced him and others to transfer trucks to smaller nearby bridges, which did little to alleviate the congestion. He even contemplated rerouting cargo to as far as Laredo and Brownsville but found it to not be cost-effective.
“Somehow we were resilient, and we were able to get shipments across,” said Jorge Torres, founder and president of customs brokerage Interlink Trade Services. “But, that’s not good. That’s not a good message.”
Torres said that crossings decreased 70 percent through the order’s duration, with reports of traffic being backed up all the way to the Reynosa International Airport. His business also saw a 40 percent drop in shipments. Like Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge Director Luis Bazan, Torres said the full costs of the delays are still being calculated.
“I had several customers, particularly in the automotive industry, that had to fly shipments not to shutdown Mercedes or BMW,” said Torres. “So, that’s hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs – just in freight costs – besides the loss in sales, the loss in transportation costs, loss in hours of work for companies like ours.”
Torres added, “The impact of this is going to be felt for years to come.”
Castro said he understood Gov. Abbott’s desire for safety when making the order and said it is the same across the border, with Mexican authorities taking illegal activities very seriously. Because of the efforts on both sides, the additional inspections were ultimately unnecessary.
“From our stand, I think the community – it’s safe,” said Castro. “We are really working together as a community. People are looking for safety. Reynosa is a still not [only] a place be, but a place to work, and we’re trying to keep the people in a safe place.”
As businesses continue to sift through their losses, Torres warned his fellow MEDC members that what occurred under the order could not be repeated. He urged them all to focus on completing the Anzalduas International Bridge expansion as expeditiously as possible to prevent business-disrupting delays in the future.
“I think it’s time for us to really, really make a real effort – I know it’s being worked on – to have the Anzalduas Bridge up and going as soon as possible,” said Torres. “We cannot go through a crisis like this anymore. If we want to keep growing in our region, both on the Mexican side and the U.S. side, we really, really have to push to have Anzalduas [International] Bridge up and going … because if not, we’re going to lose major opportunities in our region.”
Castro agreed and called on the members to use their collective momentum to move forward.
“We learned a lesson, as he said, and that has hit the business community,” said Castro. “… When there’s a big problem, it creates unity, and I think we have to take advantage of that and start moving … because it can’t happen again.”
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