Reports of Mexican trucks deep inside the U.S. sparked Congressional protests

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 6, 1999) — Mexican trucking companies have been found operating illegally outside the limits set by the North American Free Trade Agreement, igniting calls for the U.S. to remain closed to interstate Mexican trucking until safety enforcement improves.

U.S. Dept. of Transportation inspector general Kenneth Mead reported that trucks operated by 68 Mexican companies were working in at least 24 states outside of the border states in 1998. The trucks ranged as far west as Washington, north to the Dakotas, east to New York and Florida.

Mead’s findings, in response to a query by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), prompted more than 250 congressmen to write a letter to President Clinton demanding that the U.S. continue to deny access to interstating Mexican truckers.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S. border is scheduled to open to Mexican trucks in January 2000. The border states were to have opened in 1995, but the Clinton administration has kept them closed, except for commercial zones, due to concerns about safety and labor competition.

Mead found the Mexican presence by analyzing DOT’s roadside inspection data. Mexican carriers that operate legally in border commercial zones have U.S. DOT identification numbers — numbers that showed up in inspection reports from the 24 states.

Mexican trucks also operated illegally within the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, Mead found. They are supposed to stay inside the commercial zones in those states — areas ranging from five to 20 miles next to the border — but they were found throughout the states.

Mead has been asked by Congress to investigate the 68 companies, analyze their actual safety performance, and determine what DOT intends to do about the Mexican incursions.

These are the states where the Mexican trucks were found: Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey.

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