Proponents of Mexican Cross Border Truck Program continue to fight for what’s right

Transportes Olympic truck undergoing FMCSA inspection in preparation for histroic border crossing. All participants must have a current CVSA inspection stickerThe House has made it veto-proof clear: The controversial pilot program allowing big Mexican trucks to cross the U.S. border and travel into the country must end.

The Senate has yet to act, though. And Mexico and its U.S. big-business allies are ramping up their efforts to block the repeal, including a renewed warning by Mexican officials to retaliate against U.S. exports if the program is abolished.

So begins an excellent article on the Mexican Cross Border Program from a neutral perspective, in a story published at Politico.com

And the proponents should continue to fight to keep this program which is a legal obligation we have under the terms of the NAFTA agreement that we signed with Canada and Mexico.

The article points out what we’ve been saying all along, that this has nothing to do with truck safety, concern for the safety of other motorists or any of the myriad of excuses that have come from the opposition.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is bolstering Mexico’s efforts to save the program, arguing that the Mexican trucks are tightly regulated and offer unique business opportunities to the U.S. economy. And to highlight the issue, Chamber President Thomas Donohue recently traveled to Mexico to confer about the program with key officials.

“This whole issue is much more wrapped up in immigration and anti-Mexican sentiment that you see across the board,” said US Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Janet Kavinoky, who leads the Americans for Transportation Mobility. “This is not really a foreign truck issue. We’ve had cross-border programs under NAFTA with Canadian trucks for years.”

Ms. Kavinoky “gets it”! Todd Spencer of OOIDA doesn’t! He seems to have found another out in left field quote to throw to the media hounds since the rest of his allegations have all been proven wrong.

“This is simply just another guest worker program,” said Todd Spencer, vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents independent truckers

The past year, this program has proven the ability of Mexican carriers to operate in this country, safely and in compliance with our laws and regulations. And that is what counts! What they do when they cross into the United States.

Canada has different motor carrier rules than ours, in the areas of Hours of Service and Drug Testing. So does Mexico. But we don’t hear the ridiculous assertion that Canadian drivers can drive 16 hours, cross the northern border and open another log book and continue to operate under US rules.

But we hear that all the time about Mexican drivers, which is completely unfounded.

Because of the English proficiency requirement, English speaking drivers are at a premium for Mexican carriers and these are generally reserved by their carriers to operate under the Cross Border Program.

We see this consistently in Laredo. Trucks from Transportes Olympics, headquartered 4 hours south of Nuevo Laredo in Apodaca Nuevo Leon, crossing the border, and taking their breaks in Laredo or at trucks stops between Laredo and San Antonio. They are in compliance. More so than many of us US drivers, myself included.

The oppostion has come up with more off the wall claims and excuses such as those made by avowed anti-mexican Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) which have absolutely no basis in fact.

“This program creates a new method of entry for drug and human smugglers, We need to protect our own security interests, worry more about ourselves and less about Mexico’s commercial interest here in the U.S…….Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.

Other opponents of the program argue that safety should not be compromised for the sake of exports. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a national coalition, report that one of the truck companies originally participating in the program had hundreds of safety violations.

This of course refers to the claims made by OOIDA against the Mexican subsidiary of Trinity Industries of Dallas, Trinity Industries de Mexico SA de CV where OOIDA took stats from FMCSA Safersys database and made them to look as if this company had more than 100 out of service orders per truck. The truth being that this was a 30 month compilation and the numbers did not match the reality. And 75% of the units inspected were trailers, registered in the US being crossed for US drivers for Trinity Industries to pull to their deliveries.

Concerning the opportunities for drugs and contraband to be smuggled, the truth is, at the end of 2007, there had been more than 4.8 million border crossing of loaded trailers along the southern border from Brownsville Texas to San Ysidro California. Another 100 trucks ain’t gonna make a difference. And the numbers are increasing 4% or better per year.

For instance:

  • Brownsville Texas   239,023
  • Roma Texas            8.066
  • Laredo Texas          1,563,836
  • Eagle Pass Texas    100,227
  • Del Rio Texas          63,460
  • Hidalgo Texas         486.756
  • El Paso Texas          782,936
  • Santa Teresa NM     40,267
<sub>SOURCE: SOURCE: U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Border Crossing/Entry Data; based on data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, OMR database.</sub>
Are you starting to get the picture? 100 Mexican trucks, 1000 Mexican trucks, will not have an impact on our jobs, our economic well being. They will not contribute to increased smuggling of contraband. It has been proven that human smuggling and drugs come into this country in other manners. In short, the assertions of the opposition are totally ludicrous and smell of nothing more than protectionism and the xenophobia sweeping this country against anything Mexican.

Mexico’s Response

Mexican Embassy officials say the year-old pilot program has been a positive development for both countries, allowing Mexican and American drivers to deliver goods across the border

In a strong statement after the House vote, the Mexican Embassy noted that, so far, 10 U.S. companies with 55 trucks and 27 Mexican carriers with 108 trucks have participated in the pilot program, crossing the border more than 29,000 times “without a single incident.”

“Mexico has fulfilled its NAFTA obligations and expects the U.S. do the same,” the embassy said. “Should the bill be enacted into law, the Government of Mexico will consider taking all the appropriate actions, including remedies or countermeasures under the North American Free Trade Agreement.”

The Future

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who has helped lead the fight to kill the Mexican truck program, has inserted a provision canceling it into the transportation appropriations bill. But an aide said it’s unclear when that bill will be considered, if at all, as the legislative session winds down, since a general continuing resolution to fund the government is the most likely course ahead.

And, should the ban reach President Bush’s desk, the White House has vowed to veto

We also wait for a ruling from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals that could possibly, but not likely put an end to the program.

12 months into the program, none of the catastrophic chaos predicted by the opposition has occurred.

And Mexico Trucker will remain on the front lines fighting for what’s right. If we as a country give our word to do something, we should do it and not try to back out when some special interest group decided it is not in their best interest.

And you know? I have a real problem with provision in the recently passed HR-6630 which would require the permission of Congress before authority is granted to any Mexican carrier to operate in this country. That right there, I believe, would be the basis for a lawsuit and subsequent finding for the plaintiffs should one be filed. Perhaps the rule should be extended to Canadian trucks also. Hell, let’s make it apply to any company applying for authority. After all, Congress has proven time and again that it knows what is best for the American trucker.

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