HOUSTON — Days of traffic jams at the border, due to new safety inspections he ordered last week, were part of a coordinated effort to compel Mexican officials to do more to stem the flow of immigrants into the country, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday. United State.
Escalating the stakes in a clash over immigration that has tangled trade routes to Texas, Mr. Abbott said he would end checks at only one entry point – the bridge between Laredo and the Mexican city of Colombia, Nuevo Leon – and only because the governor of that state had agreed to increase border security. On the Mexican side.
Abbott said Texas police will continue to stop all trucks coming from other Mexican states for safety checks, despite mounting pressure from truck drivers, business groups and officials on both sides demanding an end to delays that stretched for hours and even days and sharply limited commercial traffic.
“The dead-end bridges can only end with the kind of cooperation that we are showing today between Texas and Nuevo Leon,” said Mr. Abbott, a two-term Republican who will be re-elected this year.
The announcement marks a shift in Mr. Abbott’s public description of the safety inspections he ordered last week, an admission that they were a way to apply political pressure, on Mexican officials and President Biden.
“The goal all along has been to make sure that people understand the consequences of an open border and that Texas will not tolerate that anymore,” Abbott said.
In a statement on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the inspections “unnecessary and redundant” and said that “the continued flow of lawful commerce and travel and the ability of CBP to do its job should not be impeded,” referring to barriers in Customs and Border Protection facilities. Texas State Police set up their own vehicle safety checkpoints outside of where trucks go through federal inspections, creating backups. Ms. Psaki said trade has fallen by as much as 60 per cent.
Mexico’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said it opposed Mr. Abbott’s actions and that Mexican officials had been in contact with Mr. Abbott and federal officials “to find alternatives that ensure the security of our common borders without harming bilateral trade.”
Safety checks have been applied to all commercial vehicles entering Texas at major commercial crossings, and in the days since they began, backups at the border have grown exponentially.
Businessmen complain that they cannot get goods into Texas. Mexican truck drivers, facing all-day delays in sweltering heat without food or bathrooms, began protesting, halting crossings in the cities of Var and El Paso late Monday through Tuesday.
Some Republican politicians, such as Conservative Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, have even urged Mr Abbott to end the inspections, saying they are “increasing the cost of food and increasing supply chain shortages”.
And so Mr. Abbott appeared Wednesday in the border city of Laredo with the governor of the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, Samuel Alejandro García Sepulveda, and said Texas would end safety checks for trucks coming into Laredo, a crossing that serves a relatively limited area of the border. “The Texas Department of Public Safety could go back to its previous policy” of conducting random checks at this crossing, Abbott said.
In return, Garcia said, officials in his state set up some checkpoints on the Mexican side of the crossing and promised that “our 14-kilometre border with Texas will be under constant patrol with our police.” (The border between Texas and Mexico is 1,254 miles, or more than 2,000 kilometers.)
Mr. Abbott presented the decision as a victory, noting that he was able to reach an agreement with Mexican leaders in one state on border security, and promising to do it well with others.
But that goal was never mentioned in Mr. Abbott’s announcement of the inspections last week. Instead, he said, the inspections were part of a broad response to the Biden administration’s announcement that it would end the Trump-era policy of returning most immigrants at the border under the emergency public health rule, known as Section 42.
Mr. Abbott on Wednesday urged Mr. Biden to maintain the public health policy, which is expected to expire next month.
Another part of Mr. Abbott’s effort to lobby the Biden administration, which was also announced last week, is to rent buses to take the released immigrants from federal custody to Texas and bring them to Washington or elsewhere out of the state. State officials said the migrants went on a voluntary basis.
In a statement on Wednesday, Abbott said the first buses arrived in Washington, carrying more than two dozen immigrants from Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. It was again on the way.
A Fox News camera crew was on hand when the first bus arrived and took pictures of the migrants leaving near the Capitol, wearing masks and carrying Manila envelopes.
Mr. Abbott and his political strategist have seen the border, and opposition to the Biden administration’s immigration policies, as a winning issue with voters, including many Texas Democrats.
But the backups caused by the inspections, which industry experts said affected tens of millions of dollars in product shipments alone, provided a rare opportunity for Democrats to use the frontier against Mr. Abbott.
“It’s the wrong response to the Address 42 problem,” said Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who includes Laredo in his district. All he did was delay the national supply chain. It affects a lot of income here. The cost, will be passed on from the companies to the consumer.”
Edgar Sandoval And Neeraj Chokchi Contribute to the preparation of reports.