Mexican Cross-Border Program On the Chopping Block Again

Feb. 25, 2009
Omnibus Appropriations Bill’s Section 136 would end the controversial program

The Mexican Cross-Border pilot project allows Mexican domiciled trucks to move into the US beyond the roughly 25-mile wide commercial zone at the border. Similarly, US trucks may travel into Mexico. However, since the program’s inception, it has met with strong opposition from a variety of transportation groups, Members of Congress and certainly the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

While legislation stopping the project passed Congress during the last session, the Bush Administration’s Department of Transportation renewed the program for two more years based on the language of the legislation. The claim made at the time was that “implementation” of such a program was forbidden. Since, ran the logic of the program’s renewal, the program was already in existence, it was not being implemented and could, therefore, be continued.

As Congress takes up debate on the Omnibus Appropriation Bill’s Transportation Titles, Sen. Byron Dorgan (Dem.-ND) has inserted language into the Bill, under Section 136, that, if the legislation is passed and signed into law, would prohibit the Department of Transportation from directly or indirectly funding it to, “establish, implement, continue, promote, or in any way permit a cross-border motor carrier demonstration program to allow Mexican-domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond the commercial zones along the international border between the United States and Mexico, including continuing, in whole or in part, any such program that was initiated prior to the date of the enactment of this Act.”

It’s expected that if this legislation does go to the White House, President Obama will sign it into law. Reacting to the proposed legislation, Teamsters general president Jim Hoffa, said, “Shutting down the border is the right thing to do. There’s no guarantee that trucks or drivers from Mexico are safe. Until there is, dangerous Mexican trucks should not be allowed to drive freely on our highways.”