Bush Administration Seeks Appeals Court Ruling Allowing Mexican Cargo Trucks in Country
Thursday, August 30, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO – The Bush administration urged a federal appeals court Thursday to let Mexican cargo trucks cross the border and freely travel anywhere in the country, arguing that to do otherwise could strain diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Mexico.
The Teamsters Union on Wednesday asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the program, which could go into effect as early as Saturday.
The union argues that the administration plan, which would let as many as 100 registered Mexican trucks deliver their cargo anywhere in the country for the next year as part of a “demonstration program,” would endanger public highways because safety issues have not been resolved.
But in its filing Thursday, government lawyers said the trucks enrolled in the program meet U.S. trucking regulations and the program is a necessary part of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Participating Mexican carriers must comply with all legal requirements governing operations of domestically owned carriers, and in some cases stricter requirements,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler.
One hundred Mexican trucking companies will have unlimited, unregulated and unfettered security clearance access to U.S. roads to haul international cargo as part of a year-long pilot program, according to the Department of Transportation . In return, 100 U.S. trucking companies will be allowed to operate in Mexico at an undetermined time in the future.
Truckers using the high-speed border crossing procedures also will be given access to electronically-cleared RFID programs, a special driver registration for the speedy crossings, and access to B-1 visas, qualifying them to deliver Mexican cargoes in the United States and to pick up U.S. cargoes for delivery to Mexico, officials reported.
Mexican trucks carrying loads of consumer goods into the United States under a test program could be across the border in as little as 15 seconds, according to government officials setting up the procedures.
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has primary responsibility for setting the safety requirements for certifying Mexican trucking companies to participate in the program.
- The Department of Homeland Security has primary responsibility for the national security aspects of allowing certified Mexican trucking companies to run their long-haul rigs throughout the United States.
- Within DHS, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has primary responsibility for managing key border crossing electronic systems that will be utilized in the Mexican truck program.
Despite overwhelming congressional and general opposition, the Bush administration is determined to start allowing thousands of Mexican trucks to cross over the U.S. Mexico border without going through a border checks starting this Saturday. The Bush administration has said it will ignore Congress and instead rely on the Mexican government to ensure the safety of Mexican trucks that will be hurling down U.S. highways starting on Labor Day weekend- one of the busiest travel holidays of the year.
The Teamsters Union and the Sierra Club have filed a lawsuit to seek an injunction in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration over the plan. Calling for congressional hearings, Teamsters General President Jimmy Hoffa has compared the plan to the “Dubai Ports debacle,” charging President Bush is “playing a game of Russian roulette on America’s highways.”
What is the point of having a border fence or any other type of border patrol program if this trucking program is allowed to go forward in it’s present configuration? Why deal with crossing of the Rio Grande, deadly desert heat and those pesky border patrol agents when all you have to do is payoff a trucker, a trucking company or a Mexican official, then store your contraband in the back of a semi-truck and be across the border in 15 seconds or less without scrutiny.
Mexico is a country that is rampant with corruption with payoffs being business as usual. Most transactions are accomplished via payoff-especially when dealing with the Mexican government. Can Bush be so haplessly naive as to think there is not a reasonable probability that Mexican trucks crossing the U.S. Mexico border, unchecked, will not be carrying drugs, illegal alien, terrorist, al Qaeda, weapons of mass destruction or any other type of contraband that could fit in the back of a semi-trailer. This is just another misstep in a long string of national security breaches he has blindly advocated through his ineptness with border security.
The program probably could have merits if restructured. Have all trucks go through the same border security protocol that any other vehicle would go through. All trucks must pass the same inspections that all U.S. carriers must pass to be on U.S. highways. Mexican trucks should pay the same taxes that U.S. carriers pay for road maintenance. All Mexican trucks and drivers need to have a current form of U.S. insurance and be bonded. Demand the Mexican government to stop advocating and promoting the influx of illegal aliens into the U.S. before the program starts. Each and every Mexican truck passing back into Mexico should have a full load of illegal immigrants being returned back to Mexico to get clearance to cross.