SPECIAL REPORT: Some say border to open to Mexican trucks Saturday

| 8/29/2007

Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007 – The cross-border program with Mexico is apparently starting sooner rather than later.

According to media reports, officials within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration told members of the Teamsters union the border would open Saturday, Sept. 1.

Requests from Land Line for confirmation on the Teamster’s claim remained unanswered Wednesday afternoon by FMCSA.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association expressed outrage in response to learning the U.S. Department of Transportation plans to begin allowing Mexican trucks to bring cargo into the United States, against the will of the public and their nationally elected representatives.

“We are stunned at the contempt of the Administration toward the rule of law,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA. “And it’s also a slap in the face of every American, hard-working trucker.

“They are determined to open our highways to Mexico-domiciled trucking companies and truck drivers regardless of the concerns that have been raised by Congress and the American people.”

OOIDA as well as several other groups are preparing to file lawsuits seeking an injunction of the cross-border program that would force compliance with congressional mandates by the Department of Transportation.

The move by the DOT and FMCSA to open the border could be considered brazen by some, given the fact that the Office of Inspector General recently released a follow-up audit that still did not sign off on some of the prerequisites to opening the border.

The audits are required to be filed with Congress – which has not been in session since the release of the follow-up audit.

“This move by the DOT to open the border shows contempt for the American people, contempt for congressional mandates and contempt for the law,” Spencer said.

While the follow-up audit only tackled compliance with eight provisions in Section 350, another more comprehensive audit is already under way at the OIG’s office.

That audit will review compliance with 22 more provisions of Section 350 as required by Section 6901 of the U. S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007.

Even though the OIG’s office has launched its review of the proposed cross-border program and its compliance with Section 350, the audit obviously has not been completed.

Earlier in August when press reports emerged in Mexico that Mexican officials were preparing for the border to open at the end of the month, Melissa DeLaney, DOT spokeswoman, recited the familiar line for Land Lineon Aug. 16 that nothing could happen without the Inspector General’s go-ahead. She said she was not aware of any preliminary report on the status of the pilot program.

“The IG is an independent entity. We don’t have a hand in the process of them doing this report,” she said. “We are complying with the law and the law clearly states this program cannot start until that process has been done.”

– By Jami Jones, senior editor