Truckers block Mexico-Texas bridge over GOP Gov. Abbott's order for added safety inspections

Abbott's effort to make roads safer and to thwart illegal immigration and smuggling also has slowed commerce
Governor of Texas Greg Abbott is seen in attendance during the UFC 265 event at Toyota Center on August 07, 2021 in Houston, Texas.

Truckers working between Texas and Mexico have been blocking two busy bridges at the southern U.S. border, amid rising tensions over an order by the office of Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott for tighter safety inspections that also have purportedly slowed traffic.

The issue was ordered by the Texas Department of Public Safety and calls for "enhanced safety inspections" of vehicles crossing from Mexico into Texas – in an effort to apprehend human traffickers and others smuggling contraband cargo.

The inspections are part of a larger effort to address the ongoing illegal immigration crisis at the border, but are also apparently disrupting key industries. 

One driver told Reuters that the situation has become "desperate," because "we have to wait up to 15 hours to cross into the United States."

Ernesto Gaytan, the chairman of Texas Trucking Association, said, "We are supporters of Governor Abbott, but unfortunately we weren't taken into consideration."

He also said illegal migrants rarely make their way into the U.S. via commercial trucks at legal ports of entry.

The public safety department says since the order went into effect, more than 2,400 commercial vehicles have been inspected, 552 of which have been removed from service for "serious safety violations," including brakes that don't work, tires in bad shape, and failing light systems. It is unclear if any smuggling attempts have been intercepted.

The blockades Monday at the Zarazoga bridge, which connects Ciudad Juarez to El Paso,Texas, and the Pharr bridge, which connects the Mexican city of Reynosa to Pharr, Texas, have prevented upwards of $30 million of fresh produce from reaching the U.S. ahead of the holiday weekend, also according to Reuters.