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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott repeals immigration ordinance

Faced with mounting backlash from political parties and business groups, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on Friday ended his policy of inspecting all commercial vehicles entering the state from Mexico, a time-consuming process that had caused traffic jams of 14 hours or more at the border.

Mr Abbott said his decision came after an agreement with the governor of Mexico’s Tamaulipas state, who flanked him at a news conference on Friday, to step up security measures on the Mexico side of the border at ports of entry and along the Rio Grande.

Earlier in the week, Mr Abbott said the security inspections, which began on April 6, were part of a concerted effort to force Mexican officials to do more to stem the flow of migrants into the United States. He said Wednesday that he would end inspections at one entry point — the bridge between Laredo and the Mexican city of Colombia, Nuevo León — only because that state’s governor agreed to increase border security on the Mexican side.

On Friday, Mr Abbott said he now has agreements with the governors of all four of Mexico’s states that border Texas to improve security. He left open the possibility of reissuing a similar policy if exceedances increased.

“If these crossings resume or increase, it will signal that cartel-backed crossings have increased and that Texas needs to reintroduce the more stringent vehicle inspection standard,” Abbott said, adding that the Texas Department of Public Safety could go back around for now Conduct random searches of vehicles heading into Texas.

The policy was drawn up amid a broader fight Mr Abbott is waging against the White House on immigration. Migrant arrivals are expected to surge over the next month as the Biden administration plans to end a Trump-era pandemic policy that sees the majority of unauthorized migrants evacuated under an emergency regulation known as Title 42 of the public health service is turned away at the border.

Mr. Abbott, a two-term Republican up for re-election in November, had presented the inspections as a way to address the expected impact of the policy’s termination. Thousands of additional migrants are expected to seek asylum across the border each day – most of them crossing into Texas.

Mr. Abbott strongly opposes some moves by the Biden administration to ease Trump-era immigration restrictions. But since the federal government has sole authority over such matters, Mr. Abbott has sought new strategies to involve the state in immigration enforcement, such as arresting migrants for trespassing. The vehicle inspections were part of this effort. A carefully constructed policy was directed against smugglers and migrants, but it was carried out within the limits of the powers at the disposal of the state – namely vehicle safety.

But a chorus of voices — including politicians from both parties, business and trade groups, and US Customs and Border Protection — urged the governor to repeal the directive because of its impact on individuals and the economy at large at a time when the supply chain already existed tense.

In a Tuesday news release, Customs and Border Protection said delays at key trade crossings into Texas were being felt as a result of “additional and unnecessary inspections” by state police, resulting in a drop in trade traffic of up to 60 percent.

“The strength of America’s economy depends heavily on the efficient flow of cross-border trade,” the agency said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/15/us/greg-abbott-immigration-repeal.html Texas Gov. Greg Abbott repeals immigration ordinance

Mike Fahey

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