Anger is growing along the Texas-Mexico border over long delays in commercial crossings

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CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico, April 11 (Reuters) – Mexican truck drivers blocked two busy bridges on the border with the United States on Monday amid rising tensions on both sides over an order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott restricting commercial crossings between Mexico and Texas has slowed.

“We are desperate because we have to wait up to 15 hours to enter the United States,” truck driver Pedro Gonzalez said as he and others protested at the Zaragoza Bridge, which connects Ciudad Juarez to El Paso.

Abbott last week ordered the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) to conduct “enhanced security inspections” of vehicles traveling from Mexico to Texas to uncover people smuggling and contraband.

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The inspections are part of a broader effort to deter illegal immigration, Abbott said.

However, the order has infuriated industry groups and threatened to alienate even some of Abbott’s allies.

“We are supporters of Gov. Abbott, but unfortunately we were not honored,” said Ernesto Gaytan, chairman of the Texas Trucking Association, who said he has been taking calls from frustrated drivers since the order went into effect.

Gaytan said migrants rarely attempted to cross the border illegally in commercial trucks at legal ports of entry.

“Slowing down trade is not the solution.”

A Texas DPS spokesman said since Abbott’s order, the agency has inspected nearly 2,400 commercial vehicles and shut down 552 vehicles for “serious safety violations” such as defective brakes, tires and lights.

The spokesman declined to say whether the effort uncovered any attempts at smuggling.

A second bridge connecting the Mexican city of Reynosa with Pharr, Texas was also blocked by truck drivers.

Dante Galeazzi, president of the Texas International Produce Association, said the delays at the Pharr Bridge alone have prevented an estimated $30 million in fresh produce from reaching the US side since Friday.

“It is very likely that there will be no fresh produce on the shelves this Easter holiday weekend,” he said, warning that if the delays continued, prices would rise for consumers.

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Reporting by Jose Luis Gonzalez in Ciudad Juarez and Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City, additional reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington DC and Laura Gottesdiener in Monterrey; Editing by Sam Holmes

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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