EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Juarez industry leaders are urging the Mexican government to speed up improvements at a port of entry bordering New Mexico, given that Texas insists on conducting stepped-up inspections of trucks coming over from Mexico at an El Paso port of entry.
“We as a region should be working on better border crossings and quicker, more efficient inspections. Instead, we live under the threat that inspections become slower,” said Thor Salayandia, president of the Juarez Chamber of Industry. “We can’t be going through this situation. We need to speed up improvements at Santa Teresa (New Mexico) to have the option of getting our cargo across some other way.”
Salayandia’s comments on Wednesday came a day after the Texas Department of Public Safety announced enhanced random vehicle inspections of cargo trucks coming over from Mexico.
“We are committed to enforcing compliance with safety standards and one of our department’s primary functions is to ensure Texas roadways are safe for all Texans and visitors to our great state,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw.
DPS said the inspections are meant to take vehicles that pose a public safety threat to Texans off the road and to look for drugs such as the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl, which the Mexican drug cartels are smuggling through U.S. ports of entry.
But the last time Texas conducted widespread truck inspections at the border few drugs were found and industry on both sides of the border lost billions of dollars.
Back in April, Mexican truckers at blocked access to El Paso commercial ports of entry and detoured their cargo through nearby New Mexico.
On Wednesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection sent an email to stakeholders informing them of inspection delays of nearly two hours at the commercial lanes at the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso. The longer waits coincided with DPS’ enhanced inspections beginning at 2 p.m.
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said the inspections have the potential to spook investment away from West Texas.
“We can look at the last time he did this political stunt and nothing was accomplished. What we saw was not just a very significant negative impact on the local and state economy but a larger and more dangerous impact,” Escobar said on a Zoom call with reporters. “I heard it from Mexican officials directly […] because of Gov. Abbott’s stunt, they are prioritizing investments on the Mexican side in New Mexico.”
In September, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard – a leading contender for the presidency of Mexico in 2024 – came to Juarez to announce an expansion on the Mexican side of the Santa Teresa, New Mexico, port of entry.
“We want them to accelerate those improvements,” Salayandia said. “Very often the federal government comes and makes announcements but doesn’t send resources. It is as if Juarez is not on the national radar despite the importance of its industry and how its industry is growing. We want that to change.”