Almost one month after Las Americas Bridge closed, the US Customs Border Patrol (CPB) announced it would reopen with a limited schedule, beginning on Tuesday, Oct. 10. However, as part of these measures, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is keeping its renewed Texas truck inspections that have been taking place since mid-September, causing bottlenecks and significant losses in cross-border trade. Las Americas Bridge connects Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, with El Paso, Texas.
The border opened after several weeks closed, which affected several supply chains. The border was originally closed due to an overwhelming migration flow that led the CBP to relocate its Office of Field Operations officers to assist the US Border Patrol in processing migrants. The CBP mentioned that the border will be open from 6:00 am until 2:00 pm but still encourages stakeholders to consider other nearby ports.
The DPS also implemented additional inspections of commercial vehicles at the border. These measures are still in force, causing a significant impact on Mexico-US trade, estimated to cost US$1.9 billion, according to the National Chamber of Cargo Transportation (CANACAR).
Steven McCraw, Director, DPS, said in a statement to the El Paso Times that the DPS expects for the commercial vehicle safety inspections to help stop cartel smuggling activity in the southern border, while increasing safety. He did not say for how long the inspections will continue.
CANACAR adds that it has registered a delay of at least 19,000 trucks, which have been unable to cross the border. The association also mentions that the DPS' border inspections are causing lanes to close, augmenting crossing times up to 24 hours and some lines have extended for 23km. Likewise, it highlighted the Mexican authorities' work to protect truck drivers in conditions with a propensity for theft and robberies.
CANACAR had previously expressed its concern to customs authorities through a press release, stating that the disruptions put thousands of jobs at risk and affected the supply chains on both sides of the border. The chamber called the measures, implemented by Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, inamicable with the USMCA. These measures were previously implemented last year in April and were widely criticized at the time because they increased traffic on the border.
As a result of these issues, the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) released a statement assuring it sent a diplomatic letter to the US Government, in which it requested to reestablish the commercial flow through the border.
President López Obrador also mentioned during Monday’s daily press conference that Abbott's attitude toward this situation has been hostile, accusing him of making decisions for political purposes.