Texas border wait times spike as CBP agents moved to immigration duty

Source: FreightWaves
Date: 5th December 2023

Texas authorities’ truck inspections also causing major delays for cargo crossings.

Cargo truck wait times at the port of entry in Eagle Pass, Texas, have soared since federal officials announced the temporary partial closure of the border crossing on Nov. 27.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection closed the port’s International Bridge I to northbound traffic after diverting customs agents to immigration duty amid a new migrant surge in the area.

Along with the disruption from migrants, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) began safety inspections for all cargo trucks arriving from Mexico in Eagle Pass and Del Rio, Texas.

The general manager for the city of Eagle Pass International Bridge System, said daily freight volumes are down as much as 50% due to the reassignment of CBP agents and Texas DPS inspections.

Bridge I in Eagle Pass services passenger vehicles, while the city’s Bridge II, also known as the Camino Real Bridge, remains open for cargo trucks. All northbound passenger vehicles arriving from Mexico have been diverted to the Camino Real Bridge, which normally only processes cargo trucks.

“Shutting down Bridge I for northbound traffic to Mexico affects commercial traffic [on the Camino Real Bridge],” the general manager told FreightWaves. “Vehicle traffic backs up so much that it impedes commercial traffic from accessing their lane, causing major delays. On top of that, Texas DPS decided to implement inspections. Commercial crossings are down 50%.”

On an average day, the port of entry in Eagle Pass processes about 850 cargo trucks arriving from Mexico, the general manager said.

As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, cargo truck wait times in Eagle Pass were over two hours, compared to an average time for a truck to cross the bridge of 34 minutes.

The Texas DPS inspections at the border crossing in Del Rio have caused wait times to jump to over 50 minutes for a trip that would normally take 20 minutes.

The DPS inspections that began on Nov. 28 are at least the fifth time since April 2022 that the Texas agency has implemented state-run commercial checkpoints. They are in addition to cross-border truck inspections conducted by Mexico customs, CBP and the Department of Transportation.

DPS officials said the renewed inspections were aimed at disrupting cartel activity at the border.

“We hope that frequent enhanced commercial vehicle safety inspections will help deter cartel smuggling activity along our southern border while increasing the safety of our roadways,” DPS Director said in a statement to the El Paso Times in September.

On Monday, CBP officials also announced the temporary suspension of operations at the port of entry in Lukeville, Arizona, to free up agents to deal with what they call “increased levels of migrant encounters” at the border.

“In response to increased levels of migrant encounters at the Southwest Border, fueled by smugglers peddling disinformation to prey on vulnerable individuals, CBP is surging all available resources to expeditiously and safely process migrants,” officials said in a news release.

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