Mexican truckers block access to Pharr port of entry in protest of truck inspections in Texas

‘Unintended consequences’ are ‘devastating’ supply chain, Hidalgo County judge says

PHARR, Texas (Border Report) — The Pharr International Bridge leading to and from Reynosa, Mexico, was closed after truckers in Mexico blocked access to the bridge Monday to protest truck inspections imposed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, officials told Border Report. .

The South Texas Bridge normally opens at 6 a.m. but it didn’t open at all on Monday. It is the No. 1 bridge for imports of agricultural products in the nation and officials say its closure will have a ripple effect on the nation’s supply of fruits and vegetables.

Videos posted on social media in Mexico show the blockade carried out by truckers on the Mexican side of the border. They are protesting Gov. Gregg Abbott’s announcement last Thursday that all commercial traffic entering Texas from Mexico will be subject to inspection by state officials after undergoing a federal inspection at the port of entry.

The city of Pharr released a state statement around 3 p.m. Monday saying the Pharr International Bridge was “ready and open for business.” However, Pharr police officers remained at the foot of the bridge blocking all southbound traffic at 4:00 p.m. Monday, and no commercial traffic was heading north.

“We are aware of the situation in Mexico that currently impedes the flow of trade to the United States. We will continue to closely monitor these developing events and work with appropriate authorities as necessary,” the statement from the City of Pharr said.

In a statement to Border Report, US Customs and Border Protection confirmed that commercial traffic on the Pharr International Bridge is currently temporarily stopped, in both directions.

The closure is due “to a protest that occurred on the Reynosa side of the bridge as US carriers did not move south,” the CBP official said. “CBP defers further investigations into the protests to officials of the Government of Mexico, US carriers. Per established business resumption protocols, northbound business traffic is diverted to neighboring ports of entry in the interim.”

A group of Mexican truck drivers wait as their commercial vehicles are inspected by Texas officials outside the Pharr International Bridge in Pharr, Texas. The bridge closed on Monday, April 11, 2022, after truckers in Mexico blocked the bridge in protest of increased inspections called for by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. (Sandra Sánchez/Border Report)

This has caused wait times of 10 to 20 hours at the Pharr International Bridge as Department of Public Safety officials conduct what Texas State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa calls “intensive inspections.”

“The bridge is closed due to Governor Abbott’s public safety inspections of trucks from Mexico,” Hinojosa, a Democrat from McAllen, told Border Report on Monday.

Hinojosa, who was just re-elected vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Pharr typically processes 3,000 trucks a day, but since the inspections went into effect Thursday, only about 300 trucks a day have been able to cross from Mexico.

“Mexico’s truckers are upset because they don’t have food. They don’t have restrooms to use. They are running out of fuel and some of the produce is rotting. So they’re pretty upset,” Hinojosa said.

An inspector hired by the state of Texas examines the undersides of trucks that crossed the Pharr International Bridge in Pharr, Texas, from Reynosa, Mexico, Monday, April 11, 2022, before allowing the trucks to continue into the United States. The state inspections are in addition to federal inspections conducted by US Customs and Border Protection officials at the bridge and were ordered by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. (Sandra Sánchez/Border Report)

Hinojosa and several senators representing the border sent a letter to Abbott on Sunday urging him to reconsider the mandatory inspections he announced Wednesday.

He told Border Report that he fears more bridge closures, like in El Paso, could significantly hurt the state’s economy.

According to the Texas Center for Border Business and Economic Development, in 2021 nearly $442 billion in trade flowed through Texas ports of entry.

More than 65% of all products in the United States come from the Pharr International Bridgeofficials say.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez told Border Report Monday that Gov. Abbott needed to reconsider his directive and find another way to ensure border security without disrupting trade with Mexico.

“These unintended consequences resulting from their actions are devastating to the supply chain here in Texas and the United States,” Cortez said. “It’s having a huge economic impact on the supply chain.”

Cortez said he met Monday with dozens of representatives from the trucking industry, the maquiladora industry, business owners and local residents, who complained that business is slow on the U.S. side due to long wait times at the bridges. international.

“Something needs to be looked at and hopefully a way to find a balance between what the governor perceives as a danger to Texans and the needs of our international trade between the United States and Mexico,” Cortez said. “Because what he is doing today is not working.”

“What you are doing today is not working.”

Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez.

Truck driver David Martinez told Border Report that he was able to cross from Reynosa around 1 p.m. Sunday with a load of broccoli. He waited through the night and into the morning for Texas Department of Public Safety officials to inspect his truck.

Truck driver David Martinez, from Reynosa, Mexico, waits as Texas officials inspect his truck full of broccoli outside the Pharr International Bridge on Monday, April 11, 2022. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report)

His truck was being inspected at noon Monday, but his future was uncertain after that.

“We don’t know what will happen. They are not telling us anything,” she said in Spanish as she waited with a group of other truckers from Mexico under a palm tree in 90-degree heat.

Once he drops off his cargo, he usually refills the truck, often with meat, he said. But given the bridge closure, he doubted his truck would be refueled. And he had no idea how he would get back to his home in Reynosa, Mexico.

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