By Ted Hesson and Carolina Pulice
WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Commercial truck traffic from the Mexican state of Chihuahua to Texas will return to normal immediately after both sides reached an agreement on border security, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Thursday.
The state of Chihuahua provided a plan that will allow Texas authorities to cease enhanced inspections that have led to backups of trucks from Chihuahua over the past week, Abbott said during a joint press conference with Chihuahua Governor Maria Eugenia Campos Galvan.
“Texas and Chihuahua now have agreed to both secure the border as well to get commercial vehicles moving through the ports,” Abbott said.
Abbott, a Republican running for reelection in November, ordered the state’s Department of Public Safety last week to conduct “enhanced safety inspections” of vehicles as they cross from Mexico into Texas in order to uncover smuggling of people and contraband.
The inspections were part of a broader effort to deter illegal immigration aimed to counter the “open borders” policies of Democratic President Joe Biden, Abbott said.
Abbott also signed an agreement on Thursday with Coahuila Governor Miguel Angel Riquelme Solis, in which both states pledged to work to reduce illegal immigration and ensure vehicles crossing the border meet safety standards.
Mexican truck drivers blockaded bridges at the U.S. border earlier in the week to protest the delays, which some drivers said caused waits that spanned more than half a day.
Texas would cease enhanced inspections from the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon after a separate border security agreement with the governor there, Abbott said.
The inspections will continue at other parts of the border with Mexico until agreements with those states have been reached, Abbott said.
Some Mexican truckers praised the new arrangement.
“This is excellent news, right now I have two trucks lined up waiting to cross the Pharr (border bridge) two for Progreso,” said Juan Trevino, owner of several trucks in the border state of Tamaulipas. “We hope that this can be normalized soon because it has been a very difficult time for us.”
Other truckers remained skeptical.
“Well, my comrades say that the roads still aren’t as open as before. Until yesterday, nothing had changed. I spent 16 hours in the queue and I couldn’t cross … I’ll believe it when I see it,” said Pedro Gonzalez, a truck driver in Ciudad Juarez.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson and Carolina Pulice; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City; Editing by Grant McCool)