U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., vowed at a May 14 news conference to keep trying to stop a Bush administration plan that would allow Mexican truckers to drive in the United States. The plan to permit long-haul cross-border trucking “doesn’t make sense,” Boyda said.
Boyda, who has introduced a bill that would halt the project until more information is gathered, said that she’s concerned the plan would invite illegal immigration and smuggling, and could lead to low-paid Mexican drivers taking jobs from American truckers. HR 1773, the Safe American Roads Act of 2007, is set for a House vote May 15.
At Boyda’s news conference, Richard Oates, a 39-year trucker from Topeka, said he was concerned that drivers from Mexico are ill-trained and that their rigs are hazardous. “My main concern is safety,” Oates said.
Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operater Independent Drivers Association, said at the press conference that the plan was a threat to national security. “To be straight up, in terms of safety and security, this is less than a crapshoot,” Spencer said. “Mexico is a Third World country.”
One of the newest members of Congress, Boyda defeated five-term Republican incumbent Jim Ryun in 2006.
Mexican trucks had free run of the United States until 1982, when Congress closed the border to both Canadian and Mexican trucks until U.S. trucks obtained equally free run of those nations. Canada quickly complied, but Mexico did not, and the issue of Mexican trucks in the United States has dragged on ever since.
The North American Free Trade Agreement, a treaty signed by Canada, Mexico and the United States in 1994, pledged to open borders to all businesses, including trucking companies. Opening the U.S.-Mexican border to trucks is an important component of the north-south “NAFTA superhighway” that free-trade advocates have envisioned for years.