NAFTA does not require the U.S. to compromise either national security or highway safety

| 11/28/2001

Nov. 27, 2001, Grain Valley, MO - The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) voiced its endorsement today of the analysis prepared by the law firm Dewey Ballantine, demonstrating that Senate legislation on cross-border trucking does not violate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The following statement was delivered by OOIDA Executive Vice-President Todd Spencer at a press conference at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

"Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the enforcement of border entry and immigration rules has become a top national security priority. These important issues are inseparable from any proposal to allow Mexican trucks into our country. Under the current DOT proposal, all a driver would need to come into our country across the Mexican border is a Mexican commercial driver's license.

"This is troubling for two reasons: First, it is very easy to obtain a Mexican license, both legitimately and illegitimately. Second, no system is in place that allows our border enforcement personnel to check the validity of a Mexican license. For these reasons, it would be relatively easy for someone of any nationality, with less than honorable intentions, to use a Mexican license as a free pass into our country behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound vehicle.

"It should not be argued that NAFTA requires us to compromise our national security or highway safety. As the just-released Dewey Ballantine paper correctly restates, the NAFTA agreement allows the United States to pursue "its legitimate objectives of safety or the protection of or health..." by establishing "the levels of protection that it considers appropriate...

"The Murray-Shelby amendment is the most realistic set of protections yet offered to address the safety and security issues raised by the opening of the border to Mexican trucks. In one provision pertaining specifically to my comments, the Murray-Shelby amendment requires that a system be in place to allow all state and federal border inspectors to verify electronically the legitimacy of each Mexican CDL and requires them to do so upon each entry of a Mexican truck. This provision is the minimum protection we need to ensure that Mexican licenses are not used as a license to allow unqualified truckers or potential terrorists into our country.

"On behalf of our members working right now on every American highway, we encourage the conferees to adopt, and the president to sign, the sensible provisions of the Murray-Shelby Amendment."

Visit for a copy of the Dewey Ballantine Report.