AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a fourth agreement Friday regarding border security measures with the Mexican governor of Tamaulipas, Francisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca.
The agreement signed in Weslaco will help commercial traffic at the Tamaulipas-Texas border points of entry return to normal after Abbott ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to immediately cease the enhanced inspections on commercial traffic that he ordered over a week ago.
Abbott said DPS would resume random inspections. The caveat, he said, is that migration would need to decrease or he would reimpose the enhanced inspections.
"If there is not a slowdown in illegal immigration, there will be a reimplementation of 100% inspection of all commercial vehicles and a consequence of that is financial pain," Abbot said on Friday. "And that financial pain is necessary to get the public to insist that their government leaders, presidents of the two countries involved, take the action that is needed to solve this problem."
In the week that the enhanced search of commercial trucks was in effect, officials said they did not encounter any human or drug trafficking. What they did encounter, however, were safety violations on vehicles, such as problems with tires or brakes.
"The cartels know what they're doing, they don't like troopers stopping them, you know, certainly north of the border, and they certainly don't like 100% inspections of commercial vehicles on the bridges," DPS Director Steven McCraw said. "And once that started with this, we've seen a decreased amount of trafficking across bridges."
Gov. Cabeza de Vaca said the security measures include using surveillance technology already in place and bringing in additional police along the border shared with Texas in an effort to curb migration and cartel activity.
"We must renew our efforts to continue working together between Texas and Tamaulipas to help solve these issues," Cabeza de Vaca said. "Immigration control is a federal issue but I will always commit [to] assisting where we can do what we have to do. Ultimately it will also benefit the people of Tamaulipas. We don’t want organized crime in my state any more than you do."
Abbott's meeting with the governor of Tamaulipas is his fourth meeting with Mexican governors over the past three days. On April 14, he met with the Mexican governor of Chihuahua, María Eugenia Campos Galván, and signed an agreement Thursday to help ease the commercial traffic and migration at the Texas-Mexico border in El Paso.
Following that meeting and agreement, he met with Miguel Angel Riquelme Solis, the governor of Coahuila, to reach a similar border security accord. As a result, the Texas Department of Public Safety returned to random vehicle searches at the border instead of the enhanced searches that have led to hours-long traffic at border ports of entry, Abbott said. The Texas governor also met with the governor of Nuevo León on April 13, when they came to a consensus on border security as well.
The four memorandums signed between Abbott and the Mexican governors all detail efforts to "work cooperatively" to make sure vehicles crossing international borders meet the safety standards of each state. They also speak of attempting to reduce human trafficking by cartels, the movement of fentanyl and other drugs and stopping the flow of migrants through the states. Enhancing security at checkpoints already established in the four states is also a key feature of the agreements.
Specific to the agreement with Chihuahua, Galván said the policy between Texas and the northern Mexican state calls for improving technology along the border city of Ciudad Juarez with drones, thousands of cameras and more that will allow authorities to track commercial movements from Chihuahua into Texas.
"Gov. Campos has begun and will continue enhanced border security enforcement measures on the Mexico side of the border, both at ports of entry as well as along the border to prevent illegal immigration from Chihuahua into the state of Texas," Abbott said.
The agreements with the governors come after the Chihuahuan governor issued a statement expressing concern over Abbott's new policy and its impact on international trade through Mexico. She called on her other border counterparts to start a dialogue with Texas to address the issue.
"I am a faithful believer in dialogue and mediation; and I am sure that it is possible to promote better actions to strengthen the security of both sides of the border, without affecting the economy of Mexican and American families,” she said in the statement.
Abbott announced the enhanced safety inspections just over a week ago along with bussing migrants to the U.S Capitol in response to the Biden administration lifting the Trump-era rule allowing the U.S. to quickly expel migrants and asylum seekers.
The decision has led to protests by truckers at the border and has drawn criticism from many, including the White House and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who said Abbott's "misguided" policy is increasing food prices that are already climbing, worsening supply chain issues and bringing about produce shortages.
"The middle of an inflationary surge and supply chain problems is no time to cause further disruptions," Miller said. "Abbott's inspection protocol is not stopping illegal immigration. It is stopping food getting to grocery store shelves and, in many cases, causing food to rot in trucks. If this policy continues, Texas consumers will be paying two dollars for a lime and five dollars for an avocado until we can no longer find fresh food at all. It is also stopping businesses from exporting into Mexico, our largest trading partner, because of the stoppage of traffic both north and south."
Texas Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Beto O'Rourke also issued a statement Thursday following the agreement with Chihuahua.
“Abbott is the arsonist who torched the Texas economy by shutting down trade with Mexico to score cheap political points. He’s responsible for the inflation it’s caused and the businesses he’s hurt," O'Rourke said. "Now he wants credit for putting out the fire by announcing these ridiculous 'security agreements.' Texans aren’t buying it and we'll never forget the chaos Abbott has caused to our economy and our border communities.”
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