Gov. Greg Abbott's days-long inspection of commercial trucks entering Texas from Mexico cost the state an estimated $4.2 billion in economic damage. The political fiasco also boosted business in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
When the lengthy inspections stalled commercial traffic, many trucks re-routed to the border crossing at Santa Teresa. This prompted Mexico to announce a planned trade connection that will go through New Mexico instead of Texas. The expansion is called the T-MEC Corridor which will connect the port of Mazatlan to Winnipeg, Canada.
"We're now not going to use Texas," said Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier at a conference in Mexico City. "We can't leave all the eggs in one basket and be hostages to someone who wants to use trade as a political tool."
Earlier in April the Texas governor ordered state troopers to inspect every commercial vehicle passing between Texas and Mexico. He described the push as, "sending a message to both the president and Congress: Texas is tired of being the unloading dock for illegal immigrants crossing the border." After more than 4,100 vehicle inspections, nothing was found besides oil leaks and underinflated tires.
On both sides of the border, the inspections held up 18-wheelers leading to supply chain delays, reports of rotten produce, and business losses for grocers. Many Mexican truck drivers protested the policy by blocking border bridges which further delayed the stagnant traffic. Drivers reported being held up in some cases for over 30 hours.
The increasing backlash and frustrations over economic losses forced Abbott to announce the termination of the eight-day long traffic jam on the evening of April 15th.
"The actions of Texas Gov. Abbott to upend international trade and create economic uncertainty emphasizes the urgent need for a more resilient international border," said New Mexico Economic Development Department Chief Alicia Keyes for Transport Topics. "New Mexico would support efforts for a new cross-border rail line that can ease commercial trade bottlenecks."
Mexico is currently the Lone Star State's biggest trading partner with an estimated $56.25 billion worth of goods passing between the neighboring states. Following Clouthier's announcement, Abbot said Texas's border initiative Operation Lone Star will receive an additional $500 million towards tightening border security.
"We also absolutely play politics with the border," said Santa Teresa Border Industrial Association President Jerry Pacheco for the Morning News. "But we play to bring more trade from Mexico through our New Mexico ports of entry, not to impede trade."