Photo: Cross-border trucking across U.S.-Mexico border
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has sent a letter to the Obama administration urging it to not reinstate a cross-border program that would once again allow Mexican trucks to deliver goods inside the United States.
Citing safety, costs, and security concerns, the group of 44 lawmakers’ letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, stated, “We have concerns that this proposed program could impact the safety and may create a security breach along our southern border.”
“With the recent rise in and the changing tactics of the Mexican drug cartels, we are also concerned that moving forward with this cross-border trucking program at this time is not in the best interests for security along our border,” added the letter. “The El Paso Intelligence Center reports that commercial vehicles are widely-used by Mexican drug trafficking organizations.”
Currently, truckers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are only allowed to travel within a 20- to 25-mile radius of a trade port.
The letter, sent May 4th, also stated, “The current system of Mexican carriers operating within a defined commercial zone is working well for both safety and border security. We strongly oppose the Administration’s cross-border trucking proposal.”
Initially, the program was established under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994, but due to safety and environmental concerns the U.S. halted the program. Congress completely stopped it in 2009.
In response, Mexico’s government places tariffs on $2.4 billion of U.S. goods, which are still in place today.
The lawmakers are staunchly opposed to the taxpayer funds being used to pay for the on-board electronic monitors that Mexican trucks would need to have, while the American truckers would have to buy the monitors with their own money.
“Simply put, the cross-border trucking program is a straight handout to Mexico at the expense of American jobs, taxpayer dollars and security,” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said. He pointed out that the program being proposed would give Mexican truckers “unrestricted access to U.S. roadways, leaving their American counterparts at a serious disadvantage.” It is this that has unions opposed to the proposal as well.
In March of this year, President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon met and agreed to re-start the program. Calderon has agreed to lift the agricultural tariffs.