Texas Truck Inspections Ignite U.S. – Mexico Border Crisis
The operational landscape at the U.S.-Mexico border has been thrust into disarray due to an expansion of Texas’ truck inspection program. Initiated by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), these inspections were initially aimed at identifying mechanical violations. However, the DPS later clarified that the inspections, which began on September 19 at crossings around El Paso and Del Rio, were also intended “to deter the placement of migrants and other smuggling activity.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has taken a strong stance against these inspections. Terming Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s decision as “very irresponsible” and politically motivated, López Obrador announced plans to send a diplomatic note to the United States. He criticized the Texas governor for using immigration as a political tool and obstructing free transit at the border.
The economic repercussions are growing more severe by the day. According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the number of northbound trucks crossing the border at Laredo was up by 4.2% year-over-year in the second quarter. On the Mexican side, the national freight transport chamber revealed that about 19,000 trucks have been delayed at the border, carrying goods valued at approximately $1.9 billion. These figures align with those reported by CANACAR, Mexico’s national trucking organization, which estimated that 20,000 U.S.-bound shipments have been stranded, putting the value of these stranded goods at over $2 billion. CANACAR also emphasized how these delays were “severely affecting” cross-border trade.
The disruptions are far-reaching and impact various U.S. sectors, particularly industries like automotive that rely heavily on cross-border trade. These industries find themselves in a tough spot, as much of their freight is not easily transferable to intermodal rail or other modes. This problem is being exacerbated by increasing freight volumes due to shifts in manufacturing from Asia to Mexico.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also faces its own set of challenges. Their resources have been diverted from cargo inspections to the processing of migrants, resulting in even more delays. In addition to trucking delays, bridge closures and train delays due to the influx of migrants have further disrupted freight traffic.
Given the current challenges, some are looking to intermodal rail solutions as possible alternatives. Union Pacific Railroad, for example, introduced a new intermodal service connecting Mexico and the U.S. Southeast. However, even this mode of transport is not without its complications, as evidenced by a recent 24-hour service disruption due to unauthorized migrant crossings.
To sum up, the extension of the Texas truck inspection program is creating a complex web of logistical, economic, and diplomatic challenges. With Mexican President López Obrador introducing a political dimension by planning to send a diplomatic note, the situation is further complicated. Stakeholders from various sectors are now grappling with a multifaceted problem that demands a balanced and comprehensive solution.Sources: Journal of Commerce / US Bureau of Transportation Statistics / Canacar / CBP