Skip to comments.Court hears lawsuit on program allowing Mexican trucks into U.S.
Posted on 02/12/2008 3:06:35 PM PST by NormsRevenge
A federal appeals court considered Tuesday whether the Bush administration can go ahead with a pilot program that allows a small number of Mexican trucks to travel freely on U.S. highways, despite a new law by Congress against it.
Members of the Teamsters Union and their supporters packed a courtroom at 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where an apparently divided three-judge panel heard arguments in the case, which may boil down to the meaning of "establish."
Several tractor trailers also were parked outside the courthouse and union members and their supporters carried signs opposing the program, which allows participating Mexican trucking companies to send loads throughout the United States.
The Teamsters, Sierra Club and Public Citizen sued the administration in August to try to stop the program, which the U.S. agreed to as part of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement.
In December, Congress passed legislation banning funding to "establish" a program that allows U.S.-certified Mexican trucks to carry loads across the border and into the country. But the Department of Transportation interpreted "establish" as meaning to start a new program rather than to stop the current one, which was launched in September.
"The congressional intent is unambiguous," said Judge Dorothy Nelson, one of three appellate judges who will decide the issue. "The intention was to halt the pilot program."
But colleague Judge Andrew Kleinfled seemed satisfied by the administration's position that the new law only prevents new programs and doesn't address the current one. The issue may hinge on the vote of Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, who didn't tip his hand during the hearing.
American inspectors are required to certify the Mexican trucks and drivers for safety before they enter the country and the vehicles will be inspected at the border before they are let into the United States.
Some 42 Mexican trucks owned by 12 carriers have entered the United States since the Bush administration launched the hotly contested program, which permits up to 500 trucks from 100 Mexican companies full access to U.S. roads.
The Teamsters and environmentalists argue that the cross-border program will erode highway safety and eliminate U.S. jobs. They also say there are insufficient safeguards to ensure Mexican trucks are as safe as U.S. carriers.
A lawyer for the Sierra Club said not enough Mexican carriers have qualified to enter the United States to provide the necessary data to show the pilot program is safe. He said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had planned to have about 100 carriers certified by now, but only a dozen Mexican companies have been cleared.
"The agency never considered there would be so few carriers," Sierra Club lawyer Jonathan Weissglass said. "It means the pilot program is a sham."
Department of Justice attorney Irene Solet said the program requires border agents to ensure all Mexican truck drivers who intend to drive more than 25 miles into the U.S. have valid Mexican commercial drivers licenses.
She further argued that if Congress intended to "turn its back on the NAFTA agreement" with the law it passed barring establishment of cross-border trucking programs "much more clarity from Congress would be expected."
Supporters of the plan say letting more Mexican trucks on U.S. highways will save American consumers hundreds of millions of dollars. And they say U.S. trucking companies will benefit since reciprocal changes in Mexico's rules permit U.S. trucks new access to that country.
The "program gives U.S. truck drivers opportunities to compete and succeed in a market they've never before been allowed to enter while ensuring the safety of our highways," Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief John Hill said in statement after the hearing.
I find myself in agreement with the Teamsters. Who’dve thunk it?!
That comment always appears on these threads, as if the person appears surprised.
next stop mexamericanada
Ok, mr John Hill, you put your butt in a big truck and show everybody how safe it is to run in mexico. Get back with a report next year.
Why does he have to show you? Either our truckers will drive there, or they won’t.
It would be fun to watch a video of his adventures.
Seems like Jorge Boosh and company think they are running Mexico instead of the US
I just think it’s funny that everyone’s predicting our truckers won’t drive there, and somewhat ironic that ostensible conservatives are waiting for the government to show them how.
Seems to be going around. The president of Mexico seems to think he should be consulted on how best to handle US immigration policy.
In my travels I have frequent contact with professional drivers. When appropriate I ask if they'd be interested in making runs into Mexico. Not one has even come close to saying yes. Most of their comments are unpostable here :)
It would be nice if they cracked down on the thousands of unlicensed illegal alien truck drivers already operating in Southern California first.
>>>Department of Justice attorney Irene Solet said the program requires border agents to ensure all Mexican truck drivers who intend to drive more than 25 miles into the U.S. have valid Mexican commercial drivers licenses.
Waiting for the highest bidder, no doubt.
Congress has primary federal legislative authority in the US - and it is primary - that is, an existing law MUST and SHALL be modified by subsequent legislation. That's how we correct, modify, and repeal laws.
And the Supreme Court has consistently and correctly asserted the PRIMACY of the Constitution over any and all treaties since treaties are just simply the same as an existing Federal law - subject to change by new laws, and subject to nullification where they conflict with the Constitution.
Congress passing a law that cripples a treaty is the function of Congress. They are good as breaking stuff and ruining things. They have the Constitutional power & duty to screw anything up WE tell them to screw up. Sometimes we want the fatheads in Congress to be deliberately obtuse and obstructive. They're our employees and it is our right to tell our employees to trash anything we tell them to.
If Congress decides to pass a law which supercedes a minor point of a treaty, then either the People will keep that law from being signed, will have the change repealed, or will be satisfied. The opinions of a lawyer who thinks that treaties trump the Contitutional provisions of the separation of power are null and void, and frankly are irritating.
Out right misstatement of fact. The truth is it has been contracted out and has no over sight. Also state dot are prohibited from re inspecting the equipment.
Supporters of the plan say letting more Mexican trucks on U.S. highways will save American consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Another lie, the ideal is to force American drivers to work for less money. If you think any saving that would result would be passed on to the consumers I have some bridge stock for sale.
Why shouldn’t I be surprised? I’m sure it’s the first time in my life that I’ve been in agreement with the Teamsters.
Of course it will save consumers money and take it out of the pockets of US truckdrivers. I'm sure American companies will be happy to pay US truckers twice as much than they would have to pay Mexican truckers to haul loads in Mexico...yea that's the ticket!
We need to import Mexican Politicians, they will work for less (and cost less to bribe) and we can send our amnesty loving politicians down to Mexico. Now that's what I call a Fair Trade!
Just think how much money you could save if we just bid out all government jobs. I mean ever time I talk to a government worker in the state of Virgina I understand you don't need any training so a lettuce picker would work well.
Because if you are in agreement with them on this issue, then you’ve been in agreement with them in the past and simply not known about it. Embrace your inner Teamster.
Of the drivers who said they don’t want to drive in Mexico, almost all of them said their reason was fear for their personal safety. Apparently Mexican bandits routinely hijack trucks for their cargo which is then sold on the black market.
I understand that . . . I’m simply remarking that it is odd to complain that someone is stealing the job one refuses to do, for whatever reason.
On what matter have I been in agreement with them in the past?
P.S. You’re frightening me with the suggestion that I may have an “inner Teamster” :-)