JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – Mexican industry leaders are calling for an end to Texas border truck inspections given they are hindering components assembled in Juarez from reaching U.S. distribution centers.
They also are concerned that limited operating hours at smaller ports of entry outside the El Paso-Juarez urban sprawl are jeopardizing drivers and their trucks.
“The cargo vehicles that spent the night (waiting to cross the Santa Teresa, New Mexico port of entry) had their tires slashed,” said Manuel Sotelo, president of the Juarez Transportation Association. “Last night you could see people passing by. It looks like that is a migrant (smuggling) route. It seems we are getting in their way. The drivers were worried because of the people hanging out there.”
Trucking companies are addressing the safety issue by shuffling more personnel to the crossings: staff to watch the trucks at night and “fresh” drivers in the morning to spell the ones that spent the previous day in line, Sotelo said. They’re also bringing the situation to the attention of local authorities.
The Santa Teresa station of the U.S. Border Patrol has traditionally been one of the nation’s hotbeds for the smuggling of migrants who are not seeking asylum and want to avoid apprehension, federal officials have told Border Report.
Mexican truckers hauling cargo from Juarez to the U.S. are being displaced by the closing of commercial operations at the Bridge of the Americas in South-Central El Paso, and by hours-long waits at the Ysleta-Zaragoza International Bridge.
At least 28 U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers were reassigned to migrant processing centers earlier this month in response to the latest surge of asylum-seekers, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said.
Ysleta and the Marcelino Serna port of entry in Tornillo, Texas, are still processing cargo, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered Department of Public Safety troopers to stop trucks cleared by CBP and inspect them again for drugs, unauthorized migrants and other irregularities.
Abbott said the inspections are needed because the Biden administration is not doing its job of stemming illegal migration into Texas.
But the “double inspections” are causing major, unnecessary delays to commerce, Samaniego and Mexican Chamber of Industry Vice President Thor Salayandia said.
“The problem is not CBP; it is the governor of Texas,” Salayandia said on Thursday. “Abbott is strangling the border economy and profiting from the migration issue. He is attacking Washington (D.C.) and Mexico City but all of us are being affected by this.”
Salayandia said the economy of Juarez and other Mexican cities bordering the United States depends heavily on the maquiladora industry — hundreds of factories manufacturing parts for the automotive, medical, electronics and aerospace industries in North America.
The delays on those goods crossing the border are already forcing factories in Juarez to curtail production and affecting delivery schedules in U.S. plants that depend on the timely arrival of parts assembled in Mexico, Salayandia and other industry officials said.
The Mexican officials on Thursday publicly called on CBP to keep the commercial border crossing in Southern New Mexico, open 24 hours so they instruct more truckers to take their cargo there. The Pete Domenici Highway in Santa Teresa takes trucks coming from Mexico to Artcraft Road in Northwest El Paso and onto Interstate 10.
A spokesman for CBP said the agency has not received a formal request to keep Santa Teresa open 24 hours a day. However, CBP is already keeping commercial lines open through 10 p.m., or two hours longer than normal due to the closing of Bridge of the Americas.
That has resulted in truck traffic doubling at Santa Teresa from its usual 700 trucks a day to 1,400 to 1,500, CBP told Border Report.
Likewise, the Marcelino Serna crossing in Tornillo has seen truck traffic increase from about one truck a day to 300, according to CBP.
El Paso County officials said Tornillo was processing 700 trucks a day following the closing of Bridge of the Americas commercial operations but was cut in half as soon as Texas DPS showed up this week to check every truck coming out of the port of entry.
Sotelo said Abbott is not the only one unhappy about irregular migration. He said business leaders also want a clear, efficient migration policy from both Mexico and the United States, else the “lack of order” will continue.