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Predicting food shortages, Sid Miller calls on Gov. Greg Abbott to stop new vehicle inspections at the border

By Jason Beeferman, The Texas Tribune

Predicting food shortages, Sid Miller calls on Gov. Greg Abbott to stop new vehicle inspections at the border” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller called on Gov. Greg Abbott to halt his recent policy of additional commercial inspections at the border, calling the measure “political theater” and predicting it will leave grocery store shelves empty within weeks.

In an open letter addressed to the governor Tuesday, Miller said Abbott’s “economy killing action” is exacerbating already strained supply chains and causing massive produce shortages resulting in “untold losses” for Texas businesses.

“Your inspection protocol is not stopping illegal immigration,” Miller said in his letter. “It is stopping food from getting to grocery store shelves and in many cases causing food to rot in trucks — many of which are owned by Texas and other American companies. … The people of Texas deserve better!”

Abbott announced last week that state troopers would conduct inspections of northbound commercial vehicles in addition to those performed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at ports of entry between Texas and Mexico.

“Officials with the United States Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protections already conduct extensive inspections of commercial vehicles entering the United States at Texas border crossings. Resources should be placed where illegal crossings take place, not to create a crisis where they do not,” Miller wrote.

Miller is one of the first Republicans in Texas to break with Abbott over the new border policy. The measure is part of Abbott’s response to the Biden administration’s decision to end Title 42, a pandemic-era emergency health order that allowed immigration authorities to turn away migrants at the border, even those seeking asylum.

Following the measure, commercial movement along much of Texas’ southern border slowed to a standstill and Mexican truckers waited in mileslong lines at ports of entry.

On Monday, matters went from bad to worse as truckers at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge protested the measure by creating a blockade on the north- and southbound lanes on the Mexican side of the crossing. Commercial traffic at the bridge, the busiest trade crossing in the Rio Grande Valley, has come to a complete halt, and trucks carrying avocados, broccoli, peppers, strawberries and tomatoes have been sitting idle.

A similar protest in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, affecting traffic into and out of El Paso was also reported by Border Report on Monday. So far, more than 20,000 commercial trucks have been backed up on the border, Miller said.

Miller is running for a third term as agriculture commissioner, but was seen as a potential challenger to Abbott because of his vocal criticism of the governor’s handling of COVID-19. Miller is also a close ally of former President Donald Trump.

Abbott’s office did not respond to an immediate request for comment on the letter.

In addition to the increased inspections, Abbott announced other measures in response to the end of Title 42, including busing undocumented immigrants to the nation’s capital.

“The President’s failed border policy does not need to be enhanced by a state policy that does little or nothing to impact illegal immigration,” Miller said.

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