WASHINGTON – Critics
appear as full-throated as ever in their opposition to a
Bush administration plan to open the nation's highways to
Mexican trucks, according to a review of public comments
collected so far by the federal government.
More than 2,100
people had submitted comments to the Transportation
Department as of yesterday, and almost all expressed
displeasure with a proposed one-year pilot project that
could begin later this year.
Among the concerns: worries that the Mexican carriers'
trucks would be unsafe, that they could be used to smuggle
drugs into the United States and that they would imperil
the income of U.S. truckers.
“I think that if this project goes through it would
create severe problems with drug trafficking and
terrorism,” wrote Nicholas Louya of Thomasville, N.C. “I
am a small businessman with two trucks of my own. This
industry is already a struggle. This would crush the
little man. . . . I also see problems with the safety of
all affected. I don't think the local governments have the
means to enforce this properly.”
view comments that have been filed and government
documents relating to the cross-border trucking
program, go to
http://dms.dot.gov. Click on “simple
search” and under “docket search,” enter the
docket number 28055.
To submit a comment, go to
https://dms.dot.gov/submit/. You will
be asked to register and to provide the docket
Far less representative of the comments was this
optimistic one from Joe Peters, who provided no address:
“I have read most of the comments and found that most
fellow drivers have no idea of how U.S. Customs officials
operate when a truck reaches their commercial facilities.
. . . Customs and Border Protection officials are the most
prepared and have the latest technology to find drugs in
The Transportation Department extended the deadline for
comments until the close of business Monday.
The Bush administration is pushing the program, which
it says is the first step to fulfill an obligation under
the North American Free Trade Agreement to open the border
to commercial truck traffic from both countries.
Proponents say opening the border would lead to greater
efficiency in delivering products and would promote
economic growth and cooperation between the United States
Opponents, including the Teamsters union and Advocates
for Highway and Auto Safety, contend that the program
lacks adequate safeguards.
Critics had asked for the comment period to be held
open until the end of August to give the public additional
time to review more than 350 pages of program-related
documents that were released by the federal government
Melissa DeLaney, a spokeswoman for the Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration, defended the comment period
Opponents sent a letter to President Bush earlier this
week asking him to suspend plans to open the border until
their concerns are addressed. The letter, written by Reps.
Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, and Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., bore the
signatures of 114 House members.
Plans to open the border to commercial traffic have
been blocked by congressional opponents and others since
The latest delay came in the form of legislation passed
by Congress in May that requires the Transportation
Department to release additional details on the program
and get approval from the agency's inspector general.
Opponents of the program, including the Sierra Club and
the Teamsters, last month withdrew a lawsuit they had
filed against it in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
Jonathan Weissglass, an attorney for the plaintiffs,
said the lawsuit was dropped after the transportation
agency agreed to release additional details and seek