Abbott’s mandate for truckers causing fierce backlash

Commercial truckers bringing in produce and other goods from Mexico are protesting a new rule by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requiring additional inspection, resulting in extremely long wait times and the shutdown of at least one border crossing.

Why it matters: Mexico is the US’s biggest source of agricultural imports, and the US relies on an intricate, but relatively speedy inspection system at the southern border to get goods through.

  • The US imported nearly $34 billion worth of agricultural products in 2020, according to government data.

Details: Abbott, a Republican running for re-election, last week ordered state troopers to conduct additional inspection of commercial trucks in response to the Biden administration’s lifting of a policy that turned asylum-seekers away in the name of public health, which takes effect in May .

  • US Customs and Border Protection is already in charge of inspections; Abbott’s order just doubled the effort.
  • CBP said on Tuesday commercial traffic has dropped by as much as 60% since the governor’s mandate.
  • It also called the additional searches unnecessary and said “they’re leading to traffic disruptions and critical impacts to an already-strained supply chain.”

The big picture: Cross-border trade is crucial as supply chain issues continue to impact Americans.

  • Dante L. Galeazzi, CEO and president of the Texas International Produce Association, wrote in a letter to Abbott that his policy “has wreaked havoc up and down our supply chain and is likely to leave state store shelves with limited fresh produce supplies.”
  • “Border security is an important element of this region, but so is the trade that keeps millions of Texans employed. According to a study from Texas A&M, fresh produce arriving from Mexico not only employs nearly 8,000 Texans but is also responsible for $850M in economic impact to the state,” Galeazzi wrote.
  • Even some members of Abbott’s own party oppose the decision.

Bottom line: Truckers are waiting over a day in their cars, in high temperatures, to bring goods into the US, per the Texas Tribune. Some have been protesting.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with CBP’s statement.

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