The battle over opening the U.S.-Mexico border to Mexico-based trucking operations to unfettered long-haul access within the states continues on multiple fronts.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed suit with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in December 2007 against the Department of Transportation seeking an end to the then ongoing cross-border pilot program with Mexico. Oral arguments were presented in February 2008.
When the program’s funding was cut in March of this year, a ruling still had not been handed down.
Following the shutdown of the program, the court had asked the parties of the lawsuit to file short briefs about the effect on the litigation of Congress’s action to pull funding for the pilot program. Other parties to the suit, including the Teamsters and Sierra Club, told the court that the Congressional action and the termination of the pilot program rendered the legal action “moot” – no longer requiring a decision by the court.
However, OOIDA disagrees, believing that the issue is still relevant and that a decision from the court could benefit future programs by setting standards for safety and security.
In OOIDA’s brief to the court, the Association argued that unless a ruling is handed down on the lawfulness of that program, then the government could use invalid data to support a more expansive Mexican truck program.
The Association contends that the previous U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary unlawfully granted Mexico-based motor carriers exceptions from following U.S. safety regulations.
“We want to make sure that the exceptions granted by the Bush administration are ruled as illegal and considered invalid so they do not get used again in future programs allowing Mexican trucks to operate throughout the United States,” OOIDA President Jim Johnston said.
Johnston referred to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which says the United States was not required to make exceptions for safety and security.
“Those exceptions should never have been made, and Mexico should be expected to raise its standards before its trucks are allowed full access to all our highways.”
– By Jami Jones, senior editor