(NewsNation) — Traffic at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge in Texas saw movement Wednesday after a truck blockade stalled drivers for days.
The blockade began as a protest in response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement to state troopers last week, directing them to stop and inspect trucks entering the state.
As a result, unusually long backups, some lasting 12 hours or longer, have stacked up elsewhere along Texas’ roughly 1,200-mile border.
Abbott has said the inspections are necessary to curb human trafficking and the flow of drugs. Already, the Mexican government says the order is causing “serious damage” to trade. In less than a week, that cross-border traffic had plummeted to a third of normal levels.
Trucker Jesse James makes his livelihood on the road, driving goods cross-country. But the blockade set him back and left him waiting for his trailer of goods to cross the border from Mexico.
“If those tires aren’t moving, I don’t get paid,” he said. “So I’m sitting, you’re spending money out of my pocket and not getting anything.”
The gridlock is the fallout of an initiative that Abbott says is needed to curb human trafficking and the flow of drugs. But critics question how the inspections are meeting that objective, while business owners and experts complain of financial losses and warn that U.S. grocery shoppers could notice shortages as soon as this week.
Traffic is just a portion of heightening tensions seen along the border as Title 42, the COVID provision used to expel many undocumented migrants who illegally cross in the U.S., is set to expire next month.
Abbott has vowed to bus apprehended migrants to Washington and have them dropped off at the nation’s capital.
Abbott has said he would end inspections only at one international bridge after announcing what he described as an agreement for more enhanced security with Nuevo Leon Gov. Samuel García, whose Mexican state is across the border from Laredo.
But that would not bring relief to idling truckers stacked up elsewhere along Texas’ border.
On Wednesday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki called Abbott’s order “unnecessary and redundant.”
The Texas Trucking Association, which has endorsed Abbott for reelection, also said that the current situation “cannot be sustained” as the delays postponed deliveries and threatened to empty store shelves.
The Mexican governors of Coahuila and Tamaulipas, which both border Texas, additionally sent Abbott a letter calling the inspections overzealous and said they are “creating havoc and economic pain” on both sides of the border.
Should Title 42 expire, Texas officials fear they will see mass surges of migrants crossing the border. The Texas National Guard was seen late last week undergoing riot training in full gear along the Rio Grande River.
Workers such as James, however, just want the political back-and-forth to stop, he said.
“They need to sit down and work this out in D.C. to straighten up the borders,” James said. “They really do. He-said, she-said doesn’t work anymore. They need to come down here and actually see what it’s doing to the general public.”