Texas is halting some vehicle inspections at the U.S.-Mexico border after Governor Greg Abbott’s crackdown provoked protests that halted crucial food and equipment shipments.
Abbott said Wednesday that the state government of Nuevo Leon in northern Mexico agreed to conduct safety inspections before U.S.-bound trucks reach the border. The inspections will continue in other sectors of the U.S.-Mexico line. Abbott said they’re needed because of what he called U.S. President Joe Biden’s failure to repel undocumented migration and drug smuggling.
“The only way to unclog the border is for Biden to do his job and secure the border,” Abbott said during a joint press conference with Nuevo Leon Governor Samuel Alejandro Garcia Sepulveda in Laredo.
Abbott said he’s been in contact with governors of other Mexican border states and plans to begin meetings with them as soon as Thursday. The leader of the second-largest U.S. state said he is open to similar deals with those states if they make provisions for vehicle inspections.
About 25% of the vehicles inspected by Texas state troopers were deemed unsafe and removed from service, “potentially saving the lives of Texans,” Abbott said. The safety violations included issues like bad brakes, he said.
Garcia Sepulveda said inspections on the Mexican side of the border began on Tuesday, before later correcting himself to say the first checkpoints were erected Monday.
“Our 14-kilometer border with Texas will be continuously patrolled by our police,” he added.
Abbott is walking back one of the cornerstones of his border-security platform just a week after its unveiling. The two-term Republican last week said he’d increase inspections of Mexican commercial vehicles to improve highway safety and combat an expected surge in undocumented immigration.
But the inspections created hours-long delays at a border that handles more than $400 billion in trade annually, prompting Mexican truckers to block a key bridge in protest. Abbott has been criticized on both sides of the border from politicians and business groups who said the move was a political stunt with potentially serious economic consequences.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the safety checkpoints aren’t needed and that they were harming cross-border trade.
“The overarching view from not just us, but again, trade associations, officials and businesses is that these are unnecessary inspections and that they are impacting the economy,” she said at a briefing Wednesday.
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