AUSTIN (Nexstar) — State lawmakers heard from transportation and trade experts on Thursday to learn how the current crisis on the Texas-Mexico border is impacting commerce.
The Port of Entry in Del Rio is already processing less than last year, according to Carline Mays with the Texas Department of Transportation.
“In 2020, Del Rio processed $4.2 billion in trade. And in 2021, that number to date is for $2.5 billion,” Mays said.
The port had to shut down for 10 days this month due to a surge of Haitian migrants, which had a ripple effect on trade.
“It handles about $12.5 million a day in trade with over 200 trucks are crossing,” Mays said. “The shutdown resulted in traffic being diverted to Eagle Pass, which is a distance of 56 miles or an hour and a half drive, and that could be longer, because now you have a lot more traffic going on the one route.”
Traffic was already an issue at processing points with long waits.
“It’s more common than not to see three to four hours,” John Esparza with the Texas Trucking Association told lawmakers on Thursday.
Esparza said truck drivers have also noticed slower processing and delays, because border agents are being shifted based on where the migrants flow.
“When agents that move in to replace them aren’t as experienced, and across the board, we heard from trucking companies that whose drivers lost their B-1 visas, by temporary agents who they’re very aware of wouldn’t otherwise have lost those, because of the inexperience,” he said.
TTA is asking lawmakers to look at long-term infrastructure improvements to help cut down on time and boost trade.
“This is not going to be a Christmas season where it’s going to be just common just to get those requests in by the 22nd or 23rd of December to get your presents by the 25th,” Esparza warned, speaking to the greater issue of trucker shortages and congestion problems throughout the state.