Governor Greg Abbott halted the state’s aggressive truck inspection at all Texas border crossings after days of bipartisan criticism over the extended delays of goods entering the United States.
According to the San Antonio Express-News and other media outlets, for more than a week Abbott had troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety stop all commercial trucks passing through Texas ports for safety inspections, leading to waits of up to eight hours. Normally it takes less than 30 minutes for trucks to cross the border.
Abbott announced on Friday the inspections would end after he signed deals with the governors of the four Mexican states that border Texas to provide better security in an attempt to slow illegal immigration into Texas. He was criticized by the Texas Trucking Association and fellow Republicans, including Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.
“I understand the concern that businesses have about trying to move products across the bridge, but I also know the anger Texans face and have that’s caused by Joe Biden not securing the border,” Abbott said Friday.
Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who faces the governor in November, slammed Abbott, calling the inspections a “publicity stunt.”
“This was completely unnecessary and did absolutely nothing to improve the security and safety of El Paso, of Laredo, of Pharr, or anyone of our border communities of the state of Texas or of the United States of America,” O’Rourke said.
Meanwhile, at least five busloads of migrants were sent to Washington, D.C. at Abbott’s behest. Those migrants had already been processed and released by the Department of Homeland Security and volunteered to make the trip to the nation’s capital.
Drought conditions cover most of state
A drier and cooler March for much of the state has expanded drought conditions, which now cover 88 percent of the state, according to Dr. Mark Wentzel, a hydrologist with the Texas Water Development Board. The drought is most severe in the Panhandle, High Plains and South Texas. Few counties have escaped the dry conditions.
The drought is expected to expand and intensify over the next few months, according to the latest seasonal drought outlook from the National Weather Service. Thanks to a Pacific Ocean weather cycle called La Niña, drought is predicted for almost the entire state by the end of June, according to Wentzel.
First West Nile case of year reported
A Dallas County resident has been diagnosed with West Nile virus —the first reported case of the year, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
West Nile virus is transmitted through bites from infected mosquitoes. About 20% of people who are exposed develop symptoms such as headache, fever, muscle and joint aches. In rare cases, less than 1%, more serious symptoms can occur, including death.
DSHS officials suggest wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, applying insect repellent and removing standing water and “not give mosquitoes a biting chance.”
There were 112 cases of West Nile disease in Texas last year that resulted in 14 deaths.
Teacher salaries unchanged in past decade
The average salary of Texas’ public-school teachers has not improved in the past decade, according to a new study called “The Lost Decade.”
The Houston Chronicle reported on the new study by the nonprofit policy institute Every Texan and the Texas American Federation of Teachers. The study analyzed salary figures reported to the state from 2010 to 2020. It indicated that when adjusted for inflation there has not been a salary increase overall, and average pay for new teachers has slightly decreased.
“With double-digit increases in home and rental prices and general decreases or stagnation in teacher paychecks, the precarity becomes clear quickly, especially for those teaching in large urban districts,” the authors wrote. “If you cannot afford a roof over your head, how can you be faulted for looking for an exit from your demanding job?”
Gary Borders is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas during a 30-year span, including in Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches and Cedar Park. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.