Abbott’s Theatrical Border Slowdown Cost Texas A Railroad, Mexico’s Economic Minister Says

PHARR, TX - APRIL 13: Several dozen commercial trucks wait to cross the Pharr-Reynosa International bridge on April 13, 2022 in Pharr, Texas. (Photo by Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images) The bridge had been closed since ... PHARR, TX - APRIL 13: Several dozen commercial trucks wait to cross the Pharr-Reynosa International bridge on April 13, 2022 in Pharr, Texas. (Photo by Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images) The bridge had been closed since Monday because of Mexican truckers on strike, but it has since reopened. MORE LESS

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) theatrical decision to effectively institute a blockade at the U.S.-Mexico border last month has cost Texas a planned railroad expansion across that divide, the Mexican government said. 

Abbott’s border antics have already cost Texas billions in GDP, according to one estimate, and the hurt could continue for years. Now, the tally of economic damage will include the cost of a long-term railroad and ports expansion project that may instead be routed through New Mexico. 

“We’re now not going to use Texas,” Mexico’s Secretary of the Economy Tatiana Clouthier said Thursday at a press conference in Mexico City, the Dallas Morning News reported.

“We can’t leave all the eggs in one basket and be hostages to someone who wants to use trade as a political tool.”

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That appeared to be a pointed reference to Abbott, who’s running for reelection this year, and who last month ordered Texas authorities to do their own inspections of cross-border shipments from Mexico — even though federal authorities already screen that traffic. 

The inspections resulted in sometimes dayslong delays and protests from truckers in Mexico. Abbott finally brought the inspections to an end, justifying his decision to do so by signing a series of vague agreements to increase security with multiple Mexican governors — and staging a photo op

Abbott sold the inspections as a public safety measure, but they were also a challenge to the authority of the federal government, which is responsible for border law enforcement and already performs inspections of cross-border trade shipments.

At the time, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) bragged on Fox News that “the governor has figured out we can stop trade along the border, slow it down, and it will create pressure on Mexico and some of their governors to work out a deal to help us with border security.” 

Though the railroad and ports plan is a long way from completion, the Mexican government’s announcement that it will shift focus to New Mexico for the expansion is another lesson for Abbott: He endangered Texas’ relationship with its largest trading partner.

Abbott ordered the extra inspections in response to news that the Biden administration was planning on lifting Title 42, the pandemic-era authority that allows the U.S. government to turn away asylum-seekers in the interest of public health. 

A federal judge paused the administration’s plans last week, but, notably, Abbott’s inspections didn’t turn up any contraband — only some underinflated tires and broken turn signals.

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