Gov. Abbott announces end to backlogs he created at El Paso border crossings

The governor claimed more inspections were needed to crack down on migrant and drug smuggling as the Biden administration prepares to lift a pandemic-era rule used to quickly expel migrants at the border.

By Molly Smith, El Paso Matters; radio interview produced by Rhonda FanningApril 18, 2022 9:41 am, ,

From El Paso Matters:

The Texas Department of Public Safety will stop inspecting every commercial truck passing through El Paso’s ports of entry immediately, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday, a move that will bring an end to hours-long bridge delays that angered truckers, business leaders and members of his own Republican Party.

The announcement came after Chihuahua Gov. María Eugenia Campos Galván presented him with “the best border security plan that I’ve seen from any governor from Mexico,” Abbott said during a press conference in Austin, where he was joined by Campos.

It’s unclear how much of that plan is part of the state of Chihuahua’s existing policies and how much is new. Project Sentinel, the program touted by Campos and Abbott at Thursday’s press conference, has been a cornerstone of her security initiatives since she took office in September 2021.

Campos said Chihuahua has invested more than $200 million in what she called “a very sound public policy” that uses “high-profile technology,” including thousands of cameras, drones, and facial and license plate recognition. Chihuahua state police, Abbott said, will be able to track commercial vehicles from the moment they leave Juárez industrial parks to the time they cross the international bridges.

Chihuahua Gov. María Eugenia Campos Galván and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced an agreement on Thursday that Abbott said would end intensive Department of Public Safety inspections of northbound commercial traffic. (Screenshot from Texas Governor’s Office)

Abbott said the DPS inspections, which occur after trucks are inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, were needed to crack down on migrant and drug smuggling as the Biden administration prepares to lift a pandemic-era rule used to quickly expel migrants at the border.

But Abbott has not been able to point to any such interdictions as a result of the enhanced DPS inspections which started in El Paso April 8. Borderwide, DPS said it has flagged about 25% of trucks inspected as being unsafe, due to having faulty brakes, lights or tires. The agency did not provide El Paso-specific numbers.

DPS Director Steven McCraw did not address a question Wednesday, when the governor announced a similar agreement with Nuevo León, about whether the Texas agency has apprehended migrant or drug smugglers as a result of Abbott’s mandate that it check every commercial truck. Previously, DPS only conducted spot safety checks on select trucks.

CBP has said DPS’ intensified inspections are “unnecessary.”

Abbott reached a similar border security deal with the Coahuila governor late Thursday. During the afternoon press conference, Abbott said he was potentially meeting with the remaining Mexican border state governor of Tamaulipas Friday, “where we will be working to achieve similar results.”

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