At the Border

| May 28, 2001

You notice a funny thing when you talk to drivers in Mexico and in the United States about the prospect of driving across the border.

They’re scared of the same things.
Truckers on both sides are nervous about the notion of driving in a country where they don’t speak the language and don’t know the rules. They also worry that they would be victims of unreasonable laws and harsh punishments.

“Mexico is a very peaceful country,” says Juliojorge Hernandez Zacatecas, a Mexican driver. “If you commit a crime, they incarcerate you. If I were to run someone over in the United States, they would kill me with a lethal injection. The Federales are much more laid back here.

Just give them 20 pesos (about $2), and they’re gone.”
Mike Brady of Duncan, Okla., has the same fear about driving in Mexico. “If I go down there and make a wrong move, a minor traffic infraction could put you in jail. It would be real easy for an American driver to get into trouble.”

Drivers north and south of the border also feel that U.S. DOT inspectors will give preferential treatment to drivers of the other country.

“DOT’s willing to overlook a lot of stuff in Mexican trucks that they’ll nail us to the wall for,” says Stan Swindell of Silver Springs, Texas.

Martin Garcia, a Mexican driver eating lunch at a truckstop north of Mexico City, says the preferential treatment goes the other way. “There’s a little racism in the United States. If you’re a Mexican driver and the U.S. inspectors find something very tiny that’s wrong with your truck, they will make a very big deal out of it,” he says.

“One time I was driving into Nogales, Ariz., and I had a signal that worked, but there was a tiny piece of glass broken from it. They sent me back, and I had to go buy a new one. I wasted a whole day. But it’s your country, so I have to do what you say. It’s my work, and it’s very important to me.”

Driver Francisco Rosas Uribe of Mexico City agrees. “Every little thing and they’re going to fine Mexican drivers $100,” he says.

But there’s one thing that American drivers are scared of that Mexican drivers are not: losing their wages.

Because Mexican drivers would happily work for less than what U.S. drivers currently make, truckers north of the border might see a decline in pay. That’s why most American drivers adamantly oppose opening the border and most Mexican drivers support it.

“If they open the border, Mexican drivers will be able to deliver Mexican freight to where I deliver to, so I’ll be out of a job, and I don’t dig that,” says Danny Fields, a trucker from Bucklin, Mo., at a truckstop just north of the border in Laredo, Texas. Fields has come to the border to pick up tractor parts that he’s hauling to a John Deere plant in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He drives for Warren Transport of Waterloo, Iowa.

At the Border

| May 28, 2001

You notice a funny thing when you talk to drivers in Mexico and in the United States about the prospect of driving across the border.

They’re scared of the same things.
Truckers on both sides are nervous about the notion of driving in a country where they don’t speak the language and don’t know the rules. They also worry that they would be victims of unreasonable laws and harsh punishments.

“Mexico is a very peaceful country,” says Juliojorge Hernandez Zacatecas, a Mexican driver. “If you commit a crime, they incarcerate you. If I were to run someone over in the United States, they would kill me with a lethal injection. The Federales are much more laid back here.

Just give them 20 pesos (about $2), and they’re gone.”
Mike Brady of Duncan, Okla., has the same fear about driving in Mexico. “If I go down there and make a wrong move, a minor traffic infraction could put you in jail. It would be real easy for an American driver to get into trouble.”

Drivers north and south of the border also feel that U.S. DOT inspectors will give preferential treatment to drivers of the other country.

“DOT’s willing to overlook a lot of stuff in Mexican trucks that they’ll nail us to the wall for,” says Stan Swindell of Silver Springs, Texas.

Martin Garcia, a Mexican driver eating lunch at a truckstop north of Mexico City, says the preferential treatment goes the other way. “There’s a little racism in the United States. If you’re a Mexican driver and the U.S. inspectors find something very tiny that’s wrong with your truck, they will make a very big deal out of it,” he says.

“One time I was driving into Nogales, Ariz., and I had a signal that worked, but there was a tiny piece of glass broken from it. They sent me back, and I had to go buy a new one. I wasted a whole day. But it’s your country, so I have to do what you say. It’s my work, and it’s very important to me.”

Driver Francisco Rosas Uribe of Mexico City agrees. “Every little thing and they’re going to fine Mexican drivers $100,” he says.

But there’s one thing that American drivers are scared of that Mexican drivers are not: losing their wages.

Because Mexican drivers would happily work for less than what U.S. drivers currently make, truckers north of the border might see a decline in pay. That’s why most American drivers adamantly oppose opening the border and most Mexican drivers support it.

“If they open the border, Mexican drivers will be able to deliver Mexican freight to where I deliver to, so I’ll be out of a job, and I don’t dig that,” says Danny Fields, a trucker from Bucklin, Mo., at a truckstop just north of the border in Laredo, Texas. Fields has come to the border to pick up tractor parts that he’s hauling to a John Deere plant in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He drives for Warren Transport of Waterloo, Iowa.

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