According to Texas economist Ray Perryman, Governor Abbott’s decision/political stunt to inspect all commercial trucks coming into the state from Mexico cost El Paso about 1.3 billion dollars in economic output, per an El Paso Times report.

Texas Governor Orders Enhanced Inspections At Border Causing Widespread Delays
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Think of “economic output” as a localized version of “gross domestic product.”  Perryman, a Waco-based economist, estimates that Texas lost about $4.2 in GDP during the self-imposed slowdown. At over one-quarter of that total, El Paso clearly bore the brunt of the move.

Inspection Program Targets Cargo Containers
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To be clear: this was an intentional blunder that had compounding factors. During the slow-down, Juarez truck drivers formed a blockade in protest, which slowed things down even more.  In the aftermath, Mexico has signaled that they may no longer consider Texas a reliable business partner. A rail line link proposed to go through Texas is being moved to New Mexico.  Mexico’s Secretary of Economy said:

“I don’t think we’re going to use Texas anymore because we cannot…be held hostage to those who want to use trade as a political issue…We cannot go through again what we went through a few weeks ago.”

Tatiana Clouthier, Mexican Economy Secretary

U.S. Department of Transportation Border Inspections
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Abbott has said the slow-down policy was not a political stunt but, rather, a way to deal with the tide of illegal human and drug trafficking. If so, it wasn’t a very good strategy. The enhanced searches, carried out by the Texas Department of Public Safety, turned up exactly zero cases of human smuggling and exactly zero illegal drugs.  That’s not surprising for a few reasons. As Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller (a republican) told NPR:

“My people and the USDA people, we inspect every truck. We’ve already been all through those.”

Sid Miller, Texas Agriculture Commissioner

 

Miller also said that the Governor’s inspectors had, “no authority to open the trucks; all they can do is check for faulty turn signals, brake lights, that kind of stuff”.

So, if it WAS sincerely meant to crack down on drugs and human smuggling, it was a complete failure. $4 Billion for ZERO busts is not a good return on investment.

Inspection Program Targets Cargo Containers
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If the slowdown was, as Abbott’s critics have claimed, the Texas Governor pulling a cheap political stunt in an election year…who knows? Maybe it WILL pay off for Abbott come election time later this year.

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