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Governors of Mexican border states work to strengthen ties with Gov. Abbott to prevent another costly slowdown of commercial truck traffic

Chihuahua Governor event with state police in formation
Angela Kocherga/KTEP
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Chihuahua state police officers stand in formation in Ciudad Juarez at a presentation of a new security initiative by Governor Maria Eugenia "Maru" Campos Galvan.

The governors of Mexican states bordering Texas are trying to strengthen ties with the governor of Texas to keep commercial trucks and cargo moving across border. Gov. Greg Abbott brought traffic to a standstill at international bridges that led to protests by truckers waiting hours in Mexico to cross. Abbott ordered state troopers to do vehicle safety checks on every single truck entering Texas on top of the federal security inspections done by U.S. Custom and Border Protection. He called off the "enhanced inspections" after meeting with the four Mexican governors.

The governors of Mexican states bordering Texas are trying to strengthen ties with Gov. Greg Abbott to avoid another costly backup of cargo truck traffic on the border.

“We want to build a relationship with him (based) on confidence, on truth,” said Chihuahua Gov. Maria Eugenia Campos Galvan during a visit to Ciudad Juarez.

Five days after detailing her security strategy in a meeting with the governor of Texas, she showcased her plan in this border city, a major drug and human smuggling corridor experiencing a spike in violence.

“There’s no doubt that the most important guarantee a government can provide is the possibility living, growing and working in peace,” she told a group of special guests that included the mayor and business leaders.

Security was tight and nearly 100 state police officers stood in formation during a presentation that included an action-packed video detailing Plataforma Centinela, Sentinel in English.

It includes more than three thousand surveillance cameras, license plate readers and facial recognition technology to track criminal activity. The state will also use drones and technology to disable the drones used by cartels according to the governor.

“It’s an action. It’s part of an action plan. It’s not a politician’s speech. It’s reality,” she said during an interview after her presentation.

Governor Campos has been developing the plan since taking office six months ago amid a flare up of drug violence. While visiting the border city she attended a memorial service for high-ranking state enforcement officers, two police commanders and an investigator gunned down Easter weekend.

She wants the governor of Texas to know she is working in her state to provide security. “We’re doing our best. It’s a reality what we are doing. It’s a sound public policy, “said Campos.

Along another stretch of border, Coahuila’s Governor Miguel Angel Riquelme Solis recently demonstrated his state’s ongoing border security effort in video shared on twitter. The show force included a black helicopter hovering overhead as state police vehicles lined up near the Rio Grande in both Ciudad Acuña across from Del Rio, and Piedras Negras bordering Eagle Pass.

Coahuila’s governor shared his existing security border strategy with Gov. Abbott during a meeting in Austin.
Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco Javier Cabeza de Vaca also met with Abbott to assure him he has a border security plan in place.

Nuevo Leon Gov. Samuel Alejandro Garcia Sepulveda promised new security checkpoints in his state during a meeting with Abbott.

“‘You help me with trucking, and I’ll help you with security’” he said he told Abbott while talking about the meeting during a press briefing last Thursday.

Nuevo Leon shares the smallest section of border with Texas, about nine miles, but is home to a busy commercial port of entry.

The Mexican governors of states bordering Texas saw cargo truck traffic backed up into Mexico for miles when Gov. Abbott ordered state troopers to check every commercial truck entering Texas starting April 7th. It was part of the governor’s response to the Biden administration announcement that at the end of May it would end the pandemic health order Title 42 that expelled most migrants who entered the United States.

The “enhanced” truck inspections involved checking tail lights, tires, and other mechanical safety indicators. Troopers could ask to see inside a truck but could not require the driver to comply. The checks were on top of the advanced security screening done by U.S. Custom and Border Protection officers at ports of entry.

The delays led truckers to protest waiting up to 12 hours in line in Mexico to cross into Texas. Texas lost an estimated $470 million dollars a day according to the Texas economic consulting firm The Perryman Group.

The inspections also disrupted supply chains and produce deliveries prompting a backlash from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.

The truck traffic delays ended April 15th after Gov. Abbott said he had reached “historic” agreements with each of the four governors of Mexican states bordering Texas.

“At the end of the day this is not a coordinated strategy, said Tony Payan, director of the U.S.-Mexico Center at Rice University’s Baker Institute.

“The five states are not working together on a single strategy. All of them are responding separately and differently to the problem and the federal governments are not involved. And civil society in the case of Mexico in cities like Juarez, Reynosa or Laredo are not really engaged,” Payan said.

Even so, Payan says the rare face-to-face meetings between border governors could be beneficial.

“I hope that now that they’ve developed personal relationships, they can use that as a trampoline to get Abbott to be serious, not just political, and to create a regional strategy for all of them,”said Payan.

Political analysts caution that could change as Governor Abbott’s re-election campaign heats up and the border remains a reliably hot button issue.

In the meantime, some of the Mexican governors are moving quickly to build on their first meetings with Gov. Abbott.

“I hope to have this relationship in the medium and long term,” said Chihuahua Gov. Campos.

Nuevo Leon Gov. Garcia is quickly following up on first meeting with Abbot with another visit to Texas that includes stops in Austin, Dallas and Houston this week to talk about trade and business opportunities in his state.

“The relationship with Texas is better than ever,” he said.