Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s border stunts have been multifaceted, but one of the most consequential elements of his agenda was the imposition of additional layers of inspections on all commercial vehicles entering the Lone Star State.
As we’ve discussed, practically everyone warned that the policy would create lengthy delays, which is precisely what happened: Truckers, many of whom were transporting fresh produce destined for American tables, got stuck in traffic for more than 30 hours. Officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection clearly weren’t pleased, and neither was the White House.
Among the many who were similarly frustrated were American businesses that struggle when supply chains are disrupted for no reason. The fact that the Republican’s stunt made inflation worse added insult to injury. Even prominent GOP officials in the state were unimpressed.
Late last week, the governor finally decided to end the stunt, leaving many with an unanswered question: Just how much did Abbott’s gambit end up hurting consumers?
CNN reported that, according to the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, losses have been estimated to be more than $240 million, and as producers look to recoup some of their losses, the result will be higher prices for consumers. A Dallas Morning News report added:
Texas lost an estimated $477 million per day during Abbott’s enhanced border security checks, says noted and independent Texas economist Ray Perryman, president and CEO of the Perryman Group, citing preliminary data that he plans to issue in a new study next week.
And that’s just Texas. An Axios report added, “Between April 6 and 15 — when the rule was in effect — the U.S. lost an estimated $8.97 billion because of the delays at the border, according to an analysis by Texas-based the Perryman Group.”
It was against this backdrop that the Republican governor appeared on Fox News on Monday night and said he’d gladly restart the policy and obstruct cross-border commerce anew if Mexico allows “illegal immigration to continue to flow into the state of Texas.”
In other words, Friday’s announcement ended the restrictions, but there’s no reason to assume the reprieve is permanent.
It’s tempting to think Abbott will pay a political price for hurting consumers and businesses in an election year, but the Republican governor seems confident that the costly fiasco won’t hurt him. On the contrary, the Texan released a video via social media over the weekend boasting about what a great job he did.
His 2022 challenger, former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, would no doubt love to capitalize, but his message on immigration policy is nuanced and risks alienating key constituencies.
Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, told The Texas Tribune this week, in reference to O’Rourke, “His message is about as good as it can be for a Democrat but it’s complex and has to be explained in a couple of paragraphs.”