US-Mexico border chaos as Texas governor insists on lorry inspections

Traffic has backed up at border after Greg Abbott ordered extra inspections

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has defied intensifying pressure over his new border policy that has gridlocked lorries entering the US and shut down some of the world’s busiest trade bridges.

Mr Abbott ordered commercial lorries to undergo extra inspections at the US-Mexico border, causing traffic to snarl.

The Republican governor, who has been fighting with US President Joe Biden's administration over immigration, ignored pleas from the Mexican government and allies for him to relent.

The stand-off has stoked fears that grocery shoppers could experience higher prices and empty shelves at stores.

The White House claimed that the extra inspections have led to five-hour delays at border crossings and a 60 per cent drop in commercial traffic.

"Governor Abbott’s unnecessary and redundant inspections of trucks transiting ports of entry between Texas and Mexico are causing significant disruptions to the food and automobile supply chains," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.

During a trip to Laredo, Mr Abbott said he would stop inspections at one bridge in the city after reaching an agreement with the governor of neighbouring city Nuevo Leon.

“I understand the concerns that businesses have trying to move product across the border,” he said.

“But I also know well the frustration of my fellow Texans and my fellow Americans caused by the Biden administration not securing our border.”

Mr Abbott said inbound lorries elsewhere would continue to be inspected until leaders of Mexico's other neighbouring states reached agreements with Texas over security.

The governor said the extra inspections were necessary to curb human and drug trafficking.

The move was part of several actions he is taking in response to Mr Biden's intention to wind down a law that would turn away asylum seekers to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Scrutinising each lorry meant that up to 80 per cent of perishable fruit and vegetables have not been able to cross the border since last week, The New York Times reported.

The delays has also idled drivers who are not strictly paid by the hour.

Walmart, America's largest retailer, pays its lorry drivers by the kilometre and for waiting times while loading and unloading, Walmart spokesman Jimmy Carter told The National.

At an event at the White House last week, Mr Biden said investing in "people who make the supply chain run" is the best way to strengthen it.

Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg said: “If you enjoyed the food you ate for breakfast, the clothes you’re wearing right now … you can thank a truck driver for getting that to you."

The American Trucking Associations last year estimated the US had a deficit of 80,000 drivers.

Additional reporting by Holly Aguirre

Updated: April 14, 2022, 10:05 PM