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Pharr-Reynosa Intl. Bridge reports $1B loss from Abbott’s DPS inspections

Delays at Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge as a result of additional inspections under the order of Gov. Abbott.
City of Pharr
Delays at Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge as a result of additional inspections under the order of Gov. Abbott.

According to a release by the City of Pharr, the estimated trade value lost at the Pharr-Reynosa International bridge was $202 million per day, or $1 billion over the course of time that Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security measures increased inspection times from hours to days.

On April 6, Gov. Abbott announced an expansion of his Operation Lone Star border security mission that included inspections by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) of commercial traffic at all international land ports with Mexico. During that announcement, the governor said that the measure would be put in place in response to the end of Title 42 migrant expulsions by the federal government at the Texas-Mexico border to curtail drug smuggling and human trafficking.

However, the delays caused by the inspections resulted in shocking and costly logistical disruptions while delivering zero apprehensions of the human trafficking or drug smuggling that Abbott said his inspections were meant to curtail.

The Perryman Group, an economic research and analysis firm based in Waco, estimated that total losses to the state were $470 million per day in what trade groups called “a supply chain crisis.”

Economic Impact of Additional Inspections by DPS at Commercial Texas-Mexico Land Ports
Pablo De La Rosa
Texas Public Radio
Economic Impact of Additional Inspections by DPS at Commercial Texas-Mexico Land Ports

Pharr said in its release that it was proactive in immediately providing the governor’s office with feedback since the beginning of inspections “through correspondence, phone calls, and video demonstrations.”

“City of Pharr officials worked closely with Governor Abbott's office, showing the detrimental impact the directive was having in slowing trade and commerce at the Pharr International Bridge,” said the city in the release. “City leaders also worked tirelessly with the entire Texas-Mexico Border federal and state legislative delegation.”

“We completely understand the need for safety and security at the border,” said Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez. “When we saw the impact that the Governor's directive was having on our international commerce, causing significant delays and millions in economic losses, we knew we had to take immediate action.”

Only a week after implementing the additional DPS inspections, Abbott began meeting with the governors of neighboring states in order to sign memorandums of understanding. The agreements requested an increase in border security from Mexican states so that Texas DPS could discontinue its inspections in the U.S.

After governors from Nuevo León, Coahuila, Chihuahua and Tamaulipas signed the memorandums, commercial traffic resumed as normal. Not many details on how Mexico would increase its security were available, but some of the measures included in the agreement had already been in place.

The inspections provided by DPS were also only mechanical in nature and did not include review of cargo.

“Whether it be because of brake issues, because of tire issues or other issues,” said Abbott at a press conference with Nuevo León Gov. Samuel Alejandro García Sepúlveda, a week after his initial announcement. “There may be Texans whose lives were saved because of the vehicles taken out of operation by what the Texas Department of Public Safety did.”

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Border and Immigration News Desk, including the Catena Foundation and Texas Mutual Insurance Company.

Pablo De La Rosa is a freelance journalist reporting statewide with Texas Public Radio and nationally with NPR from the Texas-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, from where he originates. He’s the host of the daily Spanish-language newscast TPR Noticias Al Día.