WASHINGTON – A long-delayed plan to allow
Mexican trucks to roam throughout the United States for the
first time since 1982 appears to have surmounted its last
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco
yesterday rejected an appeal from the Teamsters union to
block the controversial initiative.
The Teamsters and
several other groups opposed to the border opening sought an
emergency injunction to delay the program, which the groups
claim does not fully comply with congressional requirements.
In a brief order released shortly before the court closed
for the Labor Day weekend, a three-judge panel denied the
That means the Bush administration is free to start
allowing pre-approved Mexican carriers to send their trucks
throughout the United States as part of a one-year
experiment to test the safety of Mexican trucking on U.S.
Administration officials said they hope to begin the
program as early as Thursday. But first, they must receive
certification from the Department of Transportation's
inspector general that the program complies with
congressional requirements, which they expect to get
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which
oversees the program, lauded the court decision as “welcome
news for U.S. truck drivers anxious to compete south of the
border and U.S. consumers eager to realize the savings of
more efficient shipments with one of our largest trading
Opponents said they will continue to contest the program
in the appellate court, where the case is scheduled to be
heard over the next several months.
“We believe this program clearly breaks the law,”
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said in a statement.
“We will continue to fight for safety and national security
in the courts and in Congress.”
Under the program, up to 100 Mexican carriers will be
authorized to send trucks throughout the United States. An
equal number of U.S. trucks will be able to cross into
Mexico for the first time.
Critics, including trucking and safety organizations and
dozens of lawmakers, have alleged that U.S. transportation
officials have failed to comply with congressional
requirements aimed at guaranteeing that Mexican trucks will
be safe on U.S. highways.
Others oppose the program because they fear that low-paid
Mexican truck drivers will threaten American jobs, or that
the trucks will be used to smuggle drugs or terrorists
across the border.
U.S. transportation officials say Mexican drivers will
pose no more of a risk than American truckers, since the
Mexican carriers have to pass comprehensive safety audits
and their drivers must comply with all U.S. laws and
The pilot program is viewed as a step toward fulfilling a
North American Free Trade Agreement obligation to open all
roads in the United States, Mexico and Canada to carriers
from all three countries.
Canadian trucking companies have full access to U.S.
roads, but Mexican trucks can travel only about 20 miles
inside the country at certain border crossings such as ones
in San Diego and El Paso, Texas.