Blockade ends in Pharr-Reynosa bridge, DPS inspections continue

Governor Greg Abbott’s new plans for the border came as a response to the upcoming end of Title 42

KSAT's Alicia Barrera talked with truck drivers about long hours of waiting to cross over.

PHARR, Texas – Days after drivers of commercial vehicles traveling from Reynosa, Mexico, through Pharr, Texas, began their protest with road blockades, wheels turned across the port of entry. The protest is against Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest order announced on April 6.

For the past week, drivers of commercial vehicles have undergone a secondary inspection by agents of the Texas Department of Public Safety, a decision made in response to the upcoming end of Title 42.

Title 42 is a provision in a public health law that allowed the federal government to turn back asylum seekers at the border, citing the pandemic emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to end that order on May 23. The Department of Homeland Security will then take over COVID-19 mitigation protocols.

Criticism has followed Abbott’s additional border policies, including the extra inspections at border crossings. According to Abbott, the order for the inspections serve as an added layer of security at the border to prevent the traffic of drugs and undocumented immigrants.

According to Customs Border Protection, truckers on the Mexico side of the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge ended the blockade as of Wednesday afternoon.

In an email to KSAT 12 News, a CBP official stated, “The protest in Reynosa has concluded, commercial traffic has now resumed at Pharr International Bridge, southbound empty trucks are open at Anzalduas International Bridge and cargo traffic is open at Progreso International Bridge.”

Abbott also adjusted his border policy for the Laredo-Columbia Solidarity International bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

“Clogged bridges can end only through the type of collaboration that we are demonstrating today between the State of Texas and Nuevo León, (Mexico),” Abbott said.

A new deal between Texas and the governor of Nuevo León ended the enhanced inspections on the U.S. side of the Columbia border crossing. According to the agreement, Mexican officials will conduct their own inspections for commercial traffic.

In the Rio Grande Valley, video shows DPS Troopers signaling for drivers of commercial vehicles to turn on blinkers, honk their horns and turn on windshield wipers to ensure the vehicle is in good standing.

These are the following numbers shared by DPS on Tuesday afternoon as of April 11:

  • 3,443 commercial vehicles inspected
  • 807 placed out of service
    • Due to defective brakes, tires and lighting
  • 79 drivers placed out of service
  • Total violations: 11,566

According to truck drivers at the Progresso International Bridge, it’s the long wait times they are most worried about as their produce can easily go bad.

Eduardo Villanueva, a truck driver that travels from Reynosa to Pharr daily, said he waited 14 hours to cross on Tuesday. He was eager to see the southbound lane at the bridge moving. A few 18-wheelers behind him was Reynaldo Arenas.

Arenas said he usually makes two trips to Pharr. However, due to the blockades, it has been reduced to one trip a day.

Even with the border now clear of protesters in Pharr, inspections still average about 45 minutes. Drivers like Villanueva and Arenas said they will continue to make the trip as it’s their livelihood.

About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.