SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — A few weeks ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the state’s Department of Public Safety to inspect all cargo trucks as a way to stop cartels from smuggling migrants and drugs into the U.S.
The move generated long lines at border crossings in Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas, and truckers, trucking companies and business leaders on both sides of the border complained that the longer lines were disrupting commerce between Mexico and the United States.
At California’s largest commercial truck crossing, the Otay Mesa Port of Entry south of San Diego, long lines are happening, but not because of mandated government inspections.
California Highway Patrol officers and inspectors inspect dozens of trucks daily, but they have not been asked to increase the number of inspections. Officer Pablo Torrez said it would not be practical.
“As it is, they already have about on average of two to three hour wait times just from crossing from Mexico into the U.S.,” said Torrez. “If we’re looking to inspect every vehicle, you’d be looking at 48- to 72-hour wait times.”
Torrez and his colleagues at this CHP facility are more interested in finding mechanical problems than drugs as they conduct inspections that can last up to 45 minutes per truck.
“Some vehicles are a lot easier,” he said. “Iif it’s a brand-new trailer and they have disc brakes, for example, things like that, it can take 20 minutes. But if it’s an older vehicle there are more things to look at and it might take a little bit longer.”
Torrez said trucks are given thorough 37-step assessments inside and out, and paperwork on the trucks and drivers is also verified.
“Once the inspection gets done and if there are violations, they have to be fixed here at the facility before they can continue,” he said. If “it’s a mechanical problem that can be fixed at their place of business or wherever they have their shop located, they can continue with their day, and after their day is over, they have to go back and correct it prior to the next day they are dispatched.”
According to Torrez, anywhere from 3,500 to 4,000 trucks will go through their facility on any given day, but not all can be inspected.
They use different colored stickers with numbers on them, placed on trucks’ windows and on the trailers, to determine if it’s time for a vehicle to be inspected.
Torrez said oftentimes, even if trucks are due for an inspection but don’t show obvious mechanical problems, they are allowed to proceed as a way to keep traffic flowing.