The Mexican Cross-Border ControversyContinued

Jan. 16, 2008
When US Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Mary Peters announced a one-year program to permit 100 Mexican transportation companies to carry

When US Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Mary Peters announced a one-year program to permit 100 Mexican transportation companies to carry freight—without cabotage—beyond the usual 25-mile border zone, the decision brought quick and strong reaction from both individuals and organizations.

Under terms of 1994’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), borders were to be opened by the beginning of 1996. Legal challenges aimed at the DOT and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) helped to stifle implementation of that NAFTA Chapter until the open border program was implemented in September 2007.

Through pressure on Congress and continued legal challenges to continuation of the program, the most recently passed, and signed by President Bush, $555 billion omnibus spending bill contained a provision aimed specifically at ending the program.

As pointed out by a strong opponent of the program, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) the language of the provision is that “None of the funds made available under this Act may be used to establish a cross-border motor carrier demonstration program to allow Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond the commercial zones along the international border between the United States and Mexico.” Along with other groups, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Sierra Club, the OOIDA felt the matter and program was put to rest.

Not so.

Based on the language of the provision as interpreted by the FMCSA, it will not be establishing a new program only continuing the one already in operation. As might be expected, the large organizations are angry in the extreme over these latest events.

As this issue has evolved, from the initial DOT announcement in April right up to today, those who have shared their ideas at have come out on both sides of the issue, and not always in measured tone.

Here’s a look at some of the insights shared. (No names are used, only initials and edited for space.) The question posed was, “Should Mexican trucks be allowed into the US?”

“I have concern about the driving safety of these truckers (i.e., number of hours driven, adequate rest, logbook integrity, etc.), and how will this new group of truckers be monitored? ” — M

“It’s only FAIR. The answer is YES. Free trade is a two way street. Doubts, concerns, competition . . . or anything else. Let’s deal with it. We can set the rules in conjunction with Mexican authorities and let the best man win. ” —FT

“I would agree if it was a true two way street. Between NAFTA CAFTA and every other trade agreement we have, it seems it only works one way. We give and get nothing but loss of jobs and no major benefits. That is except for cheap and sometimes inferior or dangerous products.

The only ones making out are those with the $$$$$ and not the people that make it for them. ” —B

“Mexican Carriers aren’t even interested. Calm down, relax. Mexican Carriers are not lined up at the border waiting to be allowed in.

The US and Mexican governments made an invitation to the top Mexican carriers. Out of the top 150, guess how many were interested?? None. There are much more efficient ways to get product to move across US/Mexico. ” —CM

“If a Mexican Trucking Firm or Shipper is willing to meet ALL REQUIRED AND ESTABLISHED safety, commercial (insurance), licensing, security, and communications requirements (THAT US AND CANADIAN FIRMS MUST MEET), then its drivers should be permitted to operate anywhere in either US or Canada. ” —RR

“From various articles and forums that I’ve read there seems to be a misconception about the Mexican carriers equipment. I believe that what we are seeing is border crossing trucks that is not in the best of shapes, but I know a couple of Mexican carriers with up to date equipment that is utilized for the long haul drives, not for the border crossings.

As a matter of fact I’ve seen some US equipment on our roads in deplorable condition. I don’t believe the issue is equipment. It is deeper than that. ” —A

“Why not allow them to cross into the United States?

Potential benefits:

  1. Shorten the lead time
  2. Decrease on-hand inventory
  3. Improve on-time deliveries
  4. Customer satisfaction
Obviously there has to be some controls that protect all citizens and visitors in our country. Stringent accountability must be maintained at all times. ” —LT