WESLACO, Texas (Nexstar) — Gov. Greg Abbott made a fourth deal with the governor from Tamaulipas on Friday, coming as the final agreement with neighboring Mexican governors to roll back Texas’ inspections of commercial vehicles at the southern border, which clogged traffic for more than a week.
“We are showing how border governors can lead the way on solving border problems,” Abbott said at a press conference in Weslaco.
Abbott met with Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca to discuss further securing the border and increasing traffic between states. Abbott agreed to resume vehicular inspections as usual at ports of entry along the border, on the condition the Mexican states ramp up security measures on their side of the border.
“Clogged bridges can end only through the type of collaboration that we are demonstrating today,” Abbott said on Wednesday in his meeting with Nuevo León Gov. Samuel Alejandro García Sepúlveda.
Last Wednesday, Abbott ordered state troopers to carry out “enhanced safety inspections” of all vehicles coming into the U.S. from Mexico. Entry ports soon became blocked as travelers had to wait for hours for their vehicles to be checked.
The order came as the Biden administration prepares to lift Title 42, a Trump-era policy that expelled migrants back to their home country during the pandemic.
“We knew that as soon as we did what we did on the border that we would be contacted by officials in Mexico, because it is a very high price to pay with regard to what is going on on the border,” Abbott said.
On Thursday, Abbott met with Chihuahua Gov. María Eugenia Campos Galván and Coahuila Gov. Miguel Ángel Riquelme Solís.
Campos outlined the most detailed security plan out of all four Mexican governors, citing a $200 million investment into increased security measures. The plan outlines adding drone surveillance, databases connected to drivers license registries and facial recognition features to better identify cartel leaders.
“It’s a win-win situation if we protect our borders and we protect the security of our state, as Gov. Abbott is doing right now,” she said Thursday.
Abbott said Campos’ proposal was the best border security plan he’s seen from any Mexican governor. But Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke was quick to criticize Abbott for touting the negotiations, citing Chihuahua started this initiative in December.
“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,” O’Rourke said. “We literally got nothing, literally nothing except higher inflation, economic damage to the state of Texas.”
Abbott’s Democratic opponent wasn’t the only vocal critic. The White House, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Republican Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller chalked the inspections up to political theatre and called them unnecessary.
“Your inspection protocol is not stopping illegal immigration. It is stopping food from getting to grocery store shelves and in many cases causing food to rot in trucks – many of which are owned by Texas and other American companies. It is simply political theater,” Miller’s letter read.
Texas A&M international relations professor Aileen Teague said Abbott’s recent immigration measures have highlighted divisions between Republicans and Democrats following the lifting of Title 42.
“Democrats see that the fact that a public health measure is still being used in immigration enforcement, they see that as fundamentally wrong,” Teague said. “On the other end, Republicans believe that without Title 42, it gives them very little other authorization to secure the southern border.”
She said the memorandums of understanding between the Texas and Mexican governors are historic and unprecedented, and only time will tell if they will be enforceable.
“State entities in Mexico are under-resourced at times.” Teague said. “There’s a lot of different factors that go into whether they’re going to be able to meet the standards that Gov. Abbott has mandated.”
“If those expectations are not fulfilled, and we see an increase or even a continuation of the illegal immigration traffic we’re currently seeing, Texas can reinstate the enhanced security measures for vehicles coming across the border,” Abbott said at the news conference with Cabeza de Vaca.