SPECIAL REPORT: Court denies groups’ request to halt Mexican trucks

| 9/4/2007

Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007 – An urgent request made by Teamsters, Public Citizen, Sierra Club and others for an emergency injunction to stop Mexican trucks from rolling across the border was denied late Friday night. The rejection essentially sets the stage for a Bush administration ribbon-cutting at the southern border for its cross-border pilot program.

The earliest the program would begin is Thursday, Sept. 6, according to Melissa Mazzella DeLaney, a spokeswoman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District rejected the request filed last week by the Teamsters, Public Citizen, the Sierra Club and others for an emergency injunction that would have temporarily stopped the cross-border program with Mexico. The emergency injunction request was part of a larger lawsuit the groups filed challenging various aspects of the pilot program and citing legality, safety issues and logistics.

In denying the request, the court’s order simply stated that it did not satisfy the legal requirements for an emergency stay, basically stating that the court saw no reason that the sky would fall should the program be allowed to commence.

While the petitioners see the court’s denial as a disappointment, Bonnie Robin-Vergeer, attorney for Public Citizen, said the emergency stay sought by the groups and denied by the court is “extraordinary relief that is difficult to obtain.” She explained that part of the filing was a “long shot” and normally a request for injunction required a long litigation process.

“While naturally, we are disappointed in the court’s ruling, we appreciate that the court did not address the merits of our lawsuit challenging the pilot program,” she told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio.

She said the court will address the lawfulness of the pilot program after full briefing and arguments.

Robin-Vergeer told “Land Line Now” that the lawsuit proceeds at this point. The briefings will continue into the fall, she said.

“We are hopeful that the court will agree with us that the pilot program fails to meet the requirements set by Congress,” she said.

Shortly after the Friday decision denying the motion for an injunction was announced, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued the following response:

“The court’s prompt decision denying an emergency stay is 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 partners. However, we still must wait for the Inspector General’s new assessment, respond to that report and have Mexico begin giving U.S. trucking companies access before we can begin this program.”

The IG’s assessment is now fast-tracking its way to lawmakers, who return to Capitol Hill today from their August recess.

Even though the Teamsters’ request for an injunction was denied, the battle is long from over. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is now planning to file a legal challenge to put a stop to the continued push by the Bush administration to open the border to Mexican motor carriers.

The Association will also continue its efforts on Capitol Hill to rein in the DOT.

OOIDA is calling on members and all concerned truckers, family members and friends to call their elected officials in Washington, especially their U.S. Senators, and encourage they act now to stop this ill-thought program.

– By Land Line staff