(left) San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Diane Sánchez and San Anctonio Chamber of Commerce President Richard Perez signed a letter to Congress calling for an end to the border delays disturbing trade.
(left) San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Diane Sánchez and San Anctonio Chamber of Commerce President Richard Perez signed a letter to Congress calling for an end to the border delays disturbing trade. Credit: Composite / Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The two largest chambers of commerce in San Antonio released a joint statement Wednesday urging Congress to address the delays at the United States-Mexico border that are impeding the flow of trade.

The statement, sent by letter to Texas’ congressional representatives in both political parties, says that chamber members are “deeply troubled” by the continued delay in the movement of goods on the border.

“Mexico is our largest trading partner,” the letter states. “Any delay should not be tolerated. Ports of entry between the United States and Mexico should be fully staffed. The continued delays should not be felt on the backs of the international trade community and passed down to the consumer. Full cooperation is needed to avoid this issue becoming an international crisis impacting our economy.”

Signed by Diane Sánchez, president and CEO of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Richard Perez, president and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, the letter does not specifically mention the Trump administration and its immigration policies as contributing to the problem.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump ordered Customs and Border Protection officials to accelerate the redeployment of agents from their regular positions at ports of entry to help process a growing surge of migrants arriving at the border.

During the first quarter of this year, Mexico was the nation’s biggest trading partner with $1.7 billion in goods and services crossing the U.S.-Mexico border per day on average, according to the chambers’ statement.  In 2018, U.S. trade with Mexico totaled $671 billion.

The administration has in the past threatened to close the border completely in retaliation for Mexico’s unwillingness to control the flow of migrants. The Texas Border Coalition, a group of government and economic development leaders from the region, has said closing the ports of entry at the border would create an economic crisis, possibly triggering a recession.

But the border delays are already wreaking havoc. The chambers’ statement said border crossing delays of seven to 10 hours are having a ripple effect on the economy. They estimate truck delays are costing exporters $800 million a day without even counting warehouse operations, drivers, and other factors. Import companies are now assigning two drivers per truck to comply with employment requirements for mandatory break times.

The delays mean increased costs that are being passed on to the consumer and disrupted delivery schedules and supply chains. The chambers’ statement says some shippers are rescheduling deliveries or postponing production, while others are shifting from trucks to air freight.

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.