BROWNSVILLE, Texas (Border Report) — A line of 18-wheeler trucks waited with idling engines on Wednesday at the Veterans International Bridge, where many truckers said they had been stuck for the past day after Texas DPS troopers began intensive inspections of all commercial vehicles coming from Matamoros, Mexico.
Border Report was the first to report that the Texas Department of Transportation on Tuesday began implementing “100% enforcement inspections,” according to U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from South Texas. The inspections are to last through Sunday.
Truck driver Wences Lara, of Matamoros, said he waited 24 hours to get his rig carrying diesel across the border. Then he endured a 50-minute inspection.
Lara was working on storing some cables he was told need to be tidied up, and was waiting a final consult before he could be on his way.
“I lost an entire day,” Lara told Border Report. “I’m way behind. And I’m not the only one affected.”
Truckers said the line south of the border to enter the Veterans International Bridge stretched “for miles” in the border town of Matamoros.
Trucker Carlos Rodriguez Alvarado said he met up with a trucking colleague to help relieve him. He had waited for hours trying to bring in a load of machine equipment to Brownsville.
Jaime Moreno is from Matamoros and says he drives this route often. But on Tuesday he was stopped around noon as he entered the long line of trucks. By 11 a.m. on Wednesday, he was the next truck in line to enter the inspection lot adjacent to the bridge.
He said he was unaware of the inspections and said he will be relieved to finally be able to deliver his load of equipment from a Mexican maquiladora to a Brownsville business.
Several truckers said they did not understand why every vehicle must be subject to inspection.
Troopers were checking tires, windshields, exhaust, license plates and other mechanical issues. But they are not allowed to open inside truck hulls to look for illegal immigrants or other contraband, which is done by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of entry.
Cuellar says it is a waste of time and money and he fears a repeat of last April’s three-day bridge shutdown in the nearby South Texas border town of Pharr that resulted in an estimated $1 billion in economic losses.
Border Report asked DPS officials why they have started these intensive inspections at the Veterans International Bridge — one of three bridges that lead from the Mexican state of Tamaulipas into Brownsville. This story will be updated if information is received.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com