EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Truck traffic from Mexico flowed smoothly into El Paso on Wednesday, after almost a month of lengthy delays due to enhanced safety inspections by Texas Department of Public Safety personnel at the Ysleta and Tornillo ports of entry.
The inspections ended or were at least drastically curtailed since Tuesday, truckers and border industry leaders told Border Report.
On Tuesday, more than 3,400 trucks loaded with assembled components headed to U.S. distribution centers crossed from Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, the president of the Juarez Maquiladora Association (INDEX), Sergio Colin Chavez, told Mexican news media. Only about 2,600 trucks were crossing the border daily last week, and that was after lengthy wait times, he said.
Border Industrial Association President and CEO Jerry Pacheco also said the enhanced Texas inspections had ended, but “there’s no official word on whether they’re going to bring them back.”
Border Report reached out to DPS for comment and is awaiting a response.
Pacheco said many Juarez factories opted to detour their truck shipments through New Mexico due to the delays in Texas. He agreed the inspections hindered cross-border commerce, regardless.
The stepped-up state inspections began last month, coinciding with a migrant surge that saw upwards of 4,000 foreign nationals cross between ports of entry in a two-day period in Eagle Pass, Texas, and large groups of people arriving by train to Juarez and almost immediately bolting for the border fence in El Paso. The mayor of El Paso said at the time the city was reaching a humanitarian “breaking point” due to the surge.
Border industry leaders say factories in Mexico and their American customers and parent companies lost at least $2 billion in overtime wages for truckers, late deliveries and paying idle factory workers during the enhanced inspections, which are conducted by DPS after truckers are cleared to enter the country by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Trucker Alfredo Rodriguez said the inspections disrupted not only the flow of commerce but also the lives of those who bring the merchandise across the border.
“It affected our families. You go home, say hello, then have to leave again at 3 or 4 in the morning to wait in line (at the border), sometimes for up to 16 hours,” Rodriguez said.
He called the inspections a “punishment” against Mexicans because of a migration situation they did not provoke.
“In reality, they (DPS) didn’t do anything. They had us waiting three to four hours, then they did an inspection, but it wasn’t 100 percent. That’s why we say it was a punishment; they weren’t really inspecting us,” he said.
Ismael Ponce, another trucker bringing goods from Juarez maquiladoras to nationwide distribution centers in El Paso, said he is just glad commerce is back to normal on this stretch of U.S.-Mexico border.
He said he spent up to 18 hours in line at ports of entry during Texas’ enhanced inspections, as sometimes the port closed for the day, and he had no choice but to stay in line and sleep in the truck. On Wednesday, he was able to get across in about an hour.
“Now we’re more relaxed. We’re back to sleeping at home. We are back to normal,” added Jose Castro, another trucker who had just cleared the Ysleta port on Wednesday.