Trucking news and briefs for Monday, April 25, 2022:
Texas border inspection directive cost nearly $9 billion in delays, owner-operators canceled loads
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive earlier this month to the Texas Department of Public Safety to conduct additional inspections on trucks at U.S.-Mexico border crossings cost the U.S. economy an estimated $8.967 billion while they were in place, according to Texas-based analysis firm The Perryman Group.
Abbott’s orders were all rescinded within a week after agreements were reached with Mexican governors to increase inspections on the Mexico side of the border. The directive was a result of the Biden Administration’s decision to end Title 42 expulsions — which allowed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to prohibit immigrants at the Mexican border from entering the U.S., even those seeking asylum, if they potentially pose a COVID-19 health risk.
The group said the slowdowns at the border caused by the inspections, along with protests on the Mexico side of the border that completely closed the Pharr International Bridge, resulted in spoilage of fruits and vegetables on trucks tied up in the delays, as well as production delays. “Given the strained capacity at the border in normal times, it will be difficult and, in many instances, impossible to ‘catch up,’” The Perryman Group said.
One Life Transportation owner-operator Eduardo Sustaita, headquartered in El Paso, Texas, and leased to Landstar, noted the planning snafus he saw last week when working to get back out on the road after a week at home.
Three loads in quick succession were booked and then canceled, he said, "two of them [transfer loads that ]didn't get across," said owner-operator Sustaita, who pulls in a 2013 Kenworth T660 powered by a Cummins ISX. The third one was from a manufacturer waiting on product to fit into its process itself coming from Mexico.
The rest of his options were certainly unappealing -- and few and far between, at well lower rates than what he'd seen just a few weeks earlier out of his area. Most rates he haw were somewhat analogous to what he calls the "pre-pandemic average out of El Paso," around $2-$2.10 a mile, when it was common for him to bounce to Albuquerque, New Mexico, or Odessa in Texas for a load. Finally last week, though, he found better -- all-in at $3..77 before the carrier's cut with air-transport-related parts. Good on the rate, yet with a significant drawback in the destination: Miami, Florida.
"I usually don’t run Florida," Sustaita said, "but I had to come this time. It’s pretty cheap freight out of there."
If the slowdown in freight along the border continues, Sustaita will push up his advance planning to be more proactive with the freight agents he works with. "In situations like this, I start calling agents I usually work with and call them directly, give them my status of when I’ll be available."
“Mexico is a top trading partner not only for Texas, but also for the United States,” the Perryman group said in its report, forecasting difficulties in making up for the huge slowdowns that accompanied Texas vehicle inspections for incoming trucks.. “Inefficiencies in the flow of imports and exports across the border leads to notable economic losses. While border security is certainly an issue that must be addressed, introducing artificial inefficiencies into an important, capacity constrained element of an already overly stressed national supply chain is a costly option.”
U.S. border vax mandates extended
The Department of Homeland Security last week announced that it will continue to require non-U.S. travelers entering the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination upon request.
These requirements will continue to apply to non-U.S. travelers who are traveling both for essential and non-essential reasons, including truck drivers, and do not apply to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, or U.S. nationals. DHS says the requirements were extended in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and several other federal agencies. Non-U.S. travelers entering the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals, whether for essential or non-essential reasons, must continue to:
- Verbally attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status
- Provide, upon request, proof of a CDC-approved COVID-19 vaccination, as outlined on the CDC website
- Present a valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document, such as a valid passport, Trusted Traveler Program card, or Enhanced Tribal Card
- Be prepared to present any other relevant documents requested by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer during a border inspection.
COVID-19 testing is not required to enter the United States via a land port of entry or ferry terminal.