Abbott’s Border Stunt

Political theater on the southern border.

“Greg Abbott” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Texas Tribune reports: Abbott ends inspections that clogged commercial traffic at U.S.-Mexico border for more than a week.

Gov. Greg Abbott reached a fourth and final deal — this one with Tamaulipas’ governor on Friday — to end state troopers’ increased inspections of commercial vehicles at international bridges that gridlocked commercial traffic throughout the Texas-Mexico border for more than a week.

The latest deal should bring trade back to normal after Abbott-ordered enhanced inspections at key commercial bridges caused over a week of backups that left truckers waiting for hours and sometimes days to get loads of produce, auto parts and other goods into the U.S.

I only learned about this slow down as it was being ended, but what we are clearly seeing here is what the Republican Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Sid Miller, called “simply political theater” in a letter to Abbott protesting the process.

The Tribune piece notes both the stated goal and its results (emphasis mine):

When he announced the initiative last week, Abbott said the goal was to stop illegal drugs and migrants from being smuggled into the state. As of Friday, the Department of Public Safety had not reported any drugs seized or migrants apprehended as a result of the state inspections.

But, there have been some other results, as CNN reports:

Losses to fruit and vegetable producers are estimated to be more than $240 million, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. 

Consumers will also pay a price as producers look to recoup some of their losses and supplies run low. 

Americans can expect to spend more on strawberries, avocados and asparagus as soon as this weekend, with the impacts being felt the heaviest in the Midwest and Northeast, Jungmeyer said.

“This is not just a localized issue,” said Jerry Pacheco, president and chief executive officer of the Border Industrial Association in New Mexico. “It’s going to hit you in St. Louis or up in Seattle. We’re connected to a global supply chain.” 

“It’s a bad time to be adding this to consumers’ pockets to pay out their pocketbook,”Jungmeyer said.

See, also, another Texas Tribune piece notes in detail, In McAllen, Gov. Greg Abbott’s border inspections meant late deliveries, rotten produce and lost business.

Heck, what’s $240 million in wasted products, increased produce prices for consumers, and a worsening of supply chain issues if it makes Abbott look tough on border security? I mean, especially if the “enhanced” inspections turned up nada?

As the Tribune piece initially linked above notes:

While Abbott’s new inspection program ended on Friday, the impacts on businesses and supply chains are not over, according to people involved in Texas-Mexico trade.

“Even when more trucks start crossing again, they’re going to have to work through product that was distressed and check what product can be salvaged,” said Galeazzi, of the Texas International Produce Association. “For the consumer, for the next five days to two weeks they’re going to experience outages of certain fresh produce items at stores, on menus and at schools.”

And, again, to accomplish essentially nothing (emphases mine):

Abbott said the deals with Chihuahua, CoahuilaNuevo León and Tamaulipas were “historic,” calling them an example of how border states can work together on immigration. But three of the four Mexican governors said they will simply continue security measures they put in place before Abbott ordered the state inspections.

The fourth, Nuevo León Gov. Samuel Alejandro García Sepúlveda — whose state shares only 9 miles of the 1,200-mile Texas-Mexico border — agreed to set up new checkpoints for commercial trucks.

Sounds worth it.

All of this nonsense is yet another reminder of how important trade with Mexico is and why any simplistic policy aimed at the border is probably misguided, if not destructive.

Mexico is among the U.S.’ largest trading partners. The total trade between the two countries amounted to $56.25 billion in February, according to recent government data. Texas’ biggest ports of entry — Port Laredo, Ysleta, Pharr International Bridge, Eagle Pass, El Paso, Brownsville International Bridge and Del Rio International Bridge — accounted for nearly 65% of the total trade between the U.S. and Mexico in 2021.

Further, the entire system is predicated on the ability of goods to flow relatively easily from Mexico into the US. All Abbott did here was help contribute to supply shortages and increased costs while hurting businesses on both sides of the border.

FILED UNDER: 2022 Election, Borders and Immigration, Economics and Business, US Politics, , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Jay L Gischer says:

    Well, he can’t keep the power grid up, and he can’t keep the food flowing. In a normal polity, he would not be able to keep his office, either. But teh gayz and teh illegals!

  2. EddieInCA says:

    The most effed up part of this whole disaster is that Biden and the Dems will be blamed. The nuance involved in explaining how the results of this policy were 100% created, driven, and administrated by the GOP will get lost in 30 and 60 second ads talking about “Since Biden took office, the cost of XXX is up XX%. Bring back sanity and vote GOP.”

    It’s coming. It’s sad and pathetic. And it will work.

  3. Chip Daniels says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    This is why all the horserace coverage in media outlets like WaPo and MYT is so maddening, because America is not in a normal political world where voters vote their pocketbook and expected outcomes

    We are in a culture war where one party is voting based on their resentment and rage, with the express desire to inflict punishment on their hated outgroup, and they are willing to let themselves be collateral damage if need be.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “simply political theater”

    At this point, one has to ask: Is the GOP capable of anything else?

  5. Jamie says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yes? They’re capable of doing damage.

  6. Gustopher says:

    Losses to fruit and vegetable producers are estimated to be more than $240 million, said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

    I would like to think that this at least leads to $240M of rotting produce left on Abbott’s front lawn, but these are working people who don’t have time for that.

  7. Matt Bernius says:

    Even the Texas Trucker association, Abbott supporters came out against this. Granted the statement about placing direct blame on Abbott, but it’s still a demonstration of how divisive this is.

    As always I am curious if some of our proof Texas conservative readers will respond to this or if they will memory hole it like Jan 6th.

  8. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: You seem to be behind the times. I gave up on Republicans/conservatives doing anything other than political theater a couple of decades or so ago.

  9. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Matt Bernius: If it causes anyone to question the values or motives of conservatives or Republiqans, it goes in the memory hole. But they WILL use the loss statistics to argue against Biden as per Eddie.

  10. de stijl says:

    I swear Rs have a cargo cult understanding of what actual governance is.

    Governance is roads, bridges, schools, utilities, sidewalks, light poles, sewers, traffic lights, property rates collection, stocked grocery shelves,tree trimming. And keeping up the departments needed to do the above in fighting trim.

    A failure in being able to routinely do the above means that civilization stops.

    Rs are focused owning the libs.

    I want fairly competent basic governance. Everything else is a bonus.

    Abbott can’t keep the power on and actively bollixed up the supply chain for no purpose.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    We won’t know whether this achieved it’s only purpose until we see polling on Abbott’s approval. His National Guard deployment to the border was a fiasco too, and I haven’t seen that it hurt him.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jamie: Touche.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Oh I don’t know. GWB started a couple of “forever” wars and blew up the deficit. Since then they were stymied by a DEM in the WH and for the 2 years they actually had full power all they managed to do was blow up the deficit even more. That’s gotta count for something. Since then, What?

    Build the wall? Nope.
    Blackmail Ukraine? Nope.
    Destroy Nato? Nope.
    Outlaw the gay? Nope.
    Destroy Disney? Nope.
    Make social media GOP friendly? Nope.
    Fund accelerated vaccine development? OK ok, I’ll give ’em that, but so what? DEMs would have done that too.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: Forget it Jake, it’s Texas.

  15. Jax says:

    I wonder what our resident conservative Texan, John430, thinks of this…..

  16. Hal_10000 says:

    For the last 15-20 years, the Republicans have been defined by one principle: putting the country last.

  17. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    You don’t have to wonder Jax. I’m sure he thinks it’s Biden’s fault. And Demoncrats in general. The libtards, the illegals, and the gays. Certainly NOT anyone HE supports.