Beto O'Rourke blasts Abbott's DPS directive in fourth Valley visit since governor bid
In what he said to be his fourth visit to the Valley since announcing his bid for governor, Beto O’Rourke stated to audience members at South Texas College’s Pecan Campus that Greg Abbott’s recently announced Texas Department of Public Safety directive of “enhanced safety inspections” at border crossing checkpoints is not only ineffective but hurting business.
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“With Greg Abbott stopping literally every single truck for an unnecessary safety inspection under the guise of public safety and security — though those DPS troopers cannot look into cargo holds for illegal drugs, or human beings who are being trafficked — he’s able to maybe score some political points for those who are persuaded by those kinds of theatrics, but he is killing this border economy,” O’Rourke said.
The El Paso native’s stop in the Valley comes as traffic at the Pharr International Bridge is nonexistent after Mexican truckers created a blockade in response to Abbott’s directive on Monday.
“The thing to be done at this point is to end the blockade that Governor Abbott has created,” O’Rourke told Channel 5 News. “We have produce that is spoiling, trucks that are running out of gasoline and diesel to keep the refrigeration units going, and that means more inflation, supply chain problems, higher prices in the grocery store, and it also means we’re going to lose businesses in the Rio Grande Valley. We’ve already heard of some that are moving all the way to Nogales, Arizona and leaving this community, so this is killing the economy here on the border, and it’s going to kill the economy in the state of Texas.”
When questioned about the blockade created in Mexico, O’Rourke said he understands why that decision was made.
“We have asked them to sit in line for 10, 11 hours without food or water, without a place to use the bathroom as they run out of gasoline,” he said. “They get paid by the crossing. So, if they’re not able to cross even once over the course of the day, they’re losing out on their livelihood. They have no choice but to do this right now.”
Earlier Tuesday, O’Rourke spoke at a press conference alongside customs broker Joe Arevalo and trucking company owner Polo Chow at a cold storage facility in Pharr. The three highlighted the reality of how the inspections are harming local businesses. He was soon questioned about the ending of Title 42, which sparked Abbott’s new directives in the first place.
“There are very legitimate concerns at our U.S. - Mexico border about the smuggling of illegal drugs, about the trafficking in human beings — and even those who are trying to claim asylum or come to this country to work or join family — there has to be a far more orderly process for them to do that, than what we’re seeing right now, but the way to meet that is not with stunts like renting buses to take people to Washington D.C. or activating 10,000 members of the Guard or literally stopping U.S. - Mexico trade here at Pharr-Reynosa, the answer is in coming up with solutions — bringing in the federal government to do their job, partnering with local communities by showing up and listening to them to hear the solutions that they come up with as well,” O’Rourke said.
“Proposing, for example, a guest worker program that we create here in the state of Texas, having a governor who, instead of hurting their businesses, is using TXDOT to invest in more infrastructure here so that we can facilitate even more crossings per day of the commercial traffic that keeps our economy going — not just along the border, but throughout the state of Texas.
“Greg Abbott and I see the border very differently. He sees it as a threat. He wants to ‘wall’ it, militarize it, shut it down — as he is literally doing today. I see the border as our greatest opportunity. It’s an economic driver. It is a job creator — it’s the part of the country where I’m from.”
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