New law blocks Mexico trucks in US

Language in the 2009 appropriations act signed into law by President Obama will prevent Mexican-licensed trucks from traveling beyond commercial zones along the US-Mexico border.

This action may be contested as a violation of treaty provisions included in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed earlier during the Clinton administration by the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

The $410 billion legislation was approved by the Senate March 10 and was signed March 11. It contains a provision that prevents funding for the federal program that allows Mexican motor carriers to operate beyond the US/Mexico border commercial zones.

In September of 2008, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extended the cross-border trucking demonstration project for two years, and FMCSA-authorized Mexican trucks are continuing to participate. In 2007, Congress mandated that the demonstration project be operated as a pilot program, which is governed by statute and can run for up to three years. The FMCSA program is part of the southern border truck and bus crossing provisions of NAFTA.

The program has been opposed since its inception by several groups, including the Teamsters, Public Citizen, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

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