WASHINGTON The Teamsters union and other
groups opposed to opening the border to long-haul Mexican
trucks continued to battle the initiative Thursday morning
as U.S. transportation officials awaited an assessment
expected to give them the go-ahead to start a one-year pilot
Dozens of truckers protested the initiative, which could
begin as early as Thursday afternoon, during Teamster
rallies at the Otay Mesa border crossing and in Laredo,
Opening the U.S.-Mexico border to long-haul trucks from
both countries is one of the provisions of the NAFTA treaty.
Sheryl McGurk, who lost three family members in a
collision with a Mexican truck in San Diego two years ago,
spoke against allowing Mexican trucks to drive throughout
the U.S. during a morning press conference on Capitol Hill.
To lose your mom, your dad and your nephew all at once
is indescribable, she said.
McGurk's parents, Robert and Marie Jennings of Carlsbad,
and her nephew, David Jennings II of Beaver Creek, Ohio,
were killed when their van hit a Mexican truck that was
stalled on Interstate 5 near Carmel Valley Road.
Opponents of the trucking program, including Rep. Duncan
Hunter, R-Alpine, contend that Mexican trucks will be unsafe
and could be used to smuggle drugs or terrorists.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration insists
it has put in place a program that will ensure Mexican
trucks are as safe as U.S. carriers.
The agency is awaiting an assessment of its plans from
the Department of Transportation's inspector general. That
assessment must be released to Congress before the border
can be opened for the pilot program.
It would allow up to 100 Mexican carriers to send trucks
throughout the United States, something that hasn't occurred
on a large scale since 1982. The U.S. government said it has
checked driver and truck safety records from the companies
who have been approved for the test.