SANTA TERESA, New Mexico (Border Report) – New Mexico industry officials late Tuesday persuaded Mexican truckers to lift a blockade at the commercial lanes of the Santa Teresa port of entry that began earlier that day.
Truckers in North-Central and Northeast Mexico are unhappy with increased wait times at U.S. ports of entry that coincided with the start of the Enhanced Border Inspection program by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The truckers as of late Tuesday afternoon were blocking access to ports of entry in Pharr and El Paso, Texas.
“We had some state officials cross the border, talk to the protesters and explain to them this is a different state. Santa Teresa is not part of Texas; we don’t adhere to the policies being enacted by (Texas) Gov. Greg Abbott,” said Jerry Pacheco, president and CEO of the Border Industrial Association.
The port was to remain open through 8 p.m. on Tuesday and through 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday — two hours longer than usual — to accommodate pent up demand, Pacheco said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says commercial wait times have shot up since April 8, but not because of more stringent federal inspections at ports of entry. In a news release issued late Tuesday, CBP said the delays are the result of “unnecessary” secondary inspections being done by Texas DPS.
The confusion has been exacerbated by early press reports in Mexico saying the delays were the result of “hardened” CBP inspections due to the war in Ukraine. That may explain why the demonstrators targeted Santa Teresa.
Pacheco said the Mexican truckers “were very appreciative” that New Mexico trade representatives took the time to explain to them what was going on. However, the blockade continued for several additional hours while the truckers discussed what to do. They want wait times at the border to return to normal.
The Border Industrial Association says regular passenger traffic was unaffected during the protest.
“I would hope we don’t have these blockades for very long because we shoot ourselves in the foot and exacerbate supply chain issues that are already a mess,” Pacheco said. “We are all part of a global supply chain. If you order a Dell computer and they told you it’s going to be there on Monday, you are probably not going to get it on time because we lost a day. The produce from Mexico is not going to get to the market, to the restaurant on time.”
Abbott reportedly ordered the enhanced inspections to counter human and drug trafficking, and truck safety issues he says the federal government is not addressing.
But while Texas and Washington, D.C., figure out their differences, local officials will try to get the border crossings reopened.
“Using migration as political theater isn’t very helpful right now, especially when we’re trying to come out of this pandemic, there’s a war in Europe, we have supply chain issues and here we are making things worse,” Pacheco said.