EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The Texas Department of Public Safety is immediately scaling back commercial truck checks in El Paso after the governors of Texas and Chihuahua reached a deal to jointly fight illegal immigration.
The memorandum of understanding signed Thursday in Austin by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Chihuahua Gov. Maru Campos is like one penned Wednesday between Abbott and the governor of Nuevo Leon.
“Chihuahua is doing more than talking about (border security), they have an organized game plan to address illegal immigration from Chihuahua to Texas,” Abbott said at a live-streamed news conference. “Gov. Campos will continue security efforts to prevent illegal immigration from Chihuahua into the state of Texas. She will collaborate with Texas DPS.”
The enhanced security checks that have caused delays of up to 12 hours in the bringing across of merchandise from Mexico into Texas will continue at border crossings Texas shares with Tamaulipas and Coahuila until those states commit in writing to helping Texas secure their common border.
Abbott ordered the checks in response to a continuous increase in unauthorized migration at the border which he says President Biden not only is ignoring but brought about through pro-immigration rhetoric. DPS officers are looking for drugs, migrants hidden in the trucks and vehicle safety inspections.
DPS hasn’t disclosed how much drugs or how many migrants have been found in the trucks, but the agency said one-fourth of the vehicles inspected were cited for safety violations and many were ordered off Texas roads.
The enhanced DPS inspections came a few days after the Biden administration announced it would stop expelling migrants under the Title 42 public health order. Abbott, quoting Department of Homeland Security internal data, said that will triple illegal immigration to his state.
“Since Chihuahua has a plan, Texas DPS can return to its previous strategy of random checks of trucks. As a result, the (international) bridges between Chihuahua and Texas will return to normal immediately,” Abbott said.
Just prior to the news conference in Austin, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website showed trucks were waiting between five and six hours to cross the Ysleta Port of Entry and the Bridge of the Americas border crossing between Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas.
Campos said she was “proud to sign” the agreement and said her administration has made great strides in the past seven months when it comes to public safety. Murders are down significantly in Juarez, a number of gang members involved in both drug and migrant smuggling have been captured, and the state is in the process of deploying an extensive “smart” surveillance camera system.
She also mentioned air patrols, drones and the deployment of license plate and facial recognition software.
“I thank Gov. Abbott because of his openness and willingness, his attitude to negotiate and for having really clear what the (mutual) interests are between the states of Texas and Chihuahua,” she said at the news conference.
She said the investment in the Sentinel surveillance program is close to $200 million and that she is willing to share the images and the intelligence analysis derived from them with Texas DPS.
Abbott emphasized a paragraph in the agreement that specifies the two states will collaborate in stemming illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. While Campos signed the agreement, Mexican officials in the past have said it’s illegal, as per the Mexican constitution, for government officials to hinder the free transit of Mexican citizens anywhere. Chihuahua police and Juarez police, though, often detain Central American migrants and arrest Mexican citizens involved in human smuggling.
Campos said getting international commerce back to normal was a priority and said she’s willing to let third parties audit the effectiveness of her state’s new public safety initiatives.