While key people in both governments
are reportedly perplexed with the new security headaches brought about by
the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, the White House has not changed
its mind in regard to opening the nation's highways to Mexican trucks.
The White House press office addressed
the Mexican truck issue Oct. 29 in a briefing to the media. President George
W. Bush's press secretary Ari Fleischer said the president's position on allowing
Mexican trucks into the country remains the same as it was. Jan. 1, 2002,
is the date proposed by the administration to allow Mexican trucks to enter
and travel on U.S. highways beyond the designated commercial zones.
Fleischer said Bush feels "that
it's important for the trucks to be operating safely in the United States,
for them to enter legally, and for the government to hire additional inspectors
on the borders. So that way, they can inspect the trucks."
When asked if the administration would
consider a kind of "phase-in" now, Fleischer said the action is
now in the Congress and told reporters that President Bush is hoping that
Congress will take action."
The legislation he is referring to
is the transportation funding bill, one of the appropriations bills yet to
be passed by lawmakers. Two different versions of this legislation that appropriates
money for the Department of Transportation were passed earlier this year by
the House and Senate but to date, no action has been taken to assign the debate
to a conference committee to work out the differences in the bills. The legislation
will earmark a specified amount for border state (Arizona, California, New
Mexico and Texas) grants for enforcement of motor carrier safety measures
with respect to Mexican commercial motor vehicles operating in the United
Meanwhile, U.S. (federal) agencies
have radically tightened security along its 2,000-mile (3,200 km) border with