Texas Senator John Cornyn & Texas DPS weigh in on proposed Mexican truck program

Guillermo Arias/Associated Press
An interesting article published in the New York Times today titled U.S.-Mexico Trucker Dispute Takes a Step Forward offers some interesting quotes from Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn and a spokes for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Senator John Cornyn:

“The cross-border trucking program boosts trade opportunities for the U.S. and creates jobs here in Texas. Mexican trucks must be held to stringent safety requirements — just like any carrier on U.S. highways.”

“It is time to take the brakes off this program that represents a significant trade opportunity for the U.S. and a new way to create jobs and drive revenue for my home state of Texas.”

Texas State Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples:

“U.S. farmers should not have to pay the price for broken diplomatic relationships and Texas agriculture should not be penalized because Congress broke a 17-year-old agreement. I hope our trade negotiators cut a fair deal soon so Texas agriculture can continue to provide a safe, affordable food supply and good jobs for our citizens.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety has not weighed in on the trucking program, but it dismissed the notion that it would lead to an increase in human, drug, illicit cash or weapons smuggling.

“The Texas D.P.S. has significantly enhanced commercial vehicle enforcement activity along the U.S.-Mexico border since 2003-4 through border staffing grants from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in anticipation of the full implementation of Nafta at some future date,” said Tela Mange, a spokeswoman for the public safety department. “All commercial vehicles, including commercial vehicles operated by Mexican-based carriers, entering the U.S. through commercial border crossings from Mexico are already subject to various types of inspections by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, as well as the Texas D.P.S.”

Under the Transportation Department proposal, which the administration emphasizes is only a starting point for negotiations, Mexican carriers applying to the program would have their information vetted by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. And for “an agreed-upon period of time,” Mexican drivers and vehicles would be inspected by American officials every time a tractor-trailer entered the United States.

Ms. Mange said the public safety department was not convinced that allowing the long-haul program would cause a meaningful change in the amount of traffic on Texas highways. That is because the goods coming across the border are currently transported by trucks, though ones driven by Americans, to destinations throughout the United States and Canada.

“The net volume of commercial traffic entering the U.S. is not expected to increase significantly, if at all,” she said. “In many cases, cross-border operations will simply be replaced with some long-haul operations.”