San Diego Union-Tribune

May 20, 2001

Texas, U.S. officials battle over inspections; neither's budging


LAREDO, Texas -- There's a lot of rumbling in these parts, and it's not
just the trucks.

As one Texas law enforcement official observed, "A lot of politics."

Over the years, California has spent tens of millions of dollars to
build full-fledged inspection facilities at Otay Mesa and Calexico.

In contrast, Texas spent virtually nothing and has only makeshift
inspection facilities. Yet Texas has more than twice the truck traffic crossing its border than California.

Texas officials blame the federal government.

"We believe the federal government should be stepping up to the plate and pay for construction if they are going to bring in the cargo," said Major Corey Clinton, a top official of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

U.S. authorities pin the responsibility on Texas.

"The states have traditionally done all the inspections," said Ray
Muņoz, an inspector with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. "They are the ones doing roadside inspections throughout the country. California understood that."

President Bush, a former Texas governor, wants to beef up inspections along the border.

Laredo opposes any more inspection facilities in its back yard.

Mayor Betty Flores worries that authorities want to turn Laredo into a
truck stop. Move inspection facilities inland, she said.

"What happens at the border, we are constantly reacting to the
political follies or the political successes of two powerful nations," Flores said.

"We also respond to how international policy turns into stark reality.
It's right here where the rubber meets the road, literally."