Channel 19

Todd Dills

Revisiting the cross-border program — in Mexico

| September 11, 2012

When it comes to cross-border trucking pilot program news, we don’t often hear much these days from our friends on the Southern side of the border. When I was at the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee meeting in D.C., it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard word one during the latest iteration of the program (which restarted back in the fall after two years of hiatus) about U.S. carriers going into Mexico. I asked FMCSA Associate Administrator for Policy Larry Minor the question of whether U.S. carrier participation was ongoing and, essentially, he said it was a good question. (He had no answer.)

I had to look no further than my own past reporting for the answer, as I talked to at least one of the cross-border U.S. carriers after the suspension of the program for Mexican carriers.

And the August issue of Mexico’s Canacar magazine, too, shows that of the U.S. carriers that initially signed on in 2007 when the cross-border program started to do long-haul in Mexico, three have continued to operate into Mexico, with no gap whatsoever.

Even as the Mexican government adopted trade-war-type tactics in retaliation for the Congress’ and the President’s effectively halt of the program on this side of the border in 2009, imposing new tariffs on a basket of U.S. goods imported into the country, they continued to hold up their side of the NAFTA long-haul bargain. Carriers still participating, well, continued participating.

Most recent data is as follows:

Three carriers remain — Plastics Express of City of Industry, Calif.; Stagecoach Cartage and Distribution of El Paso, Texas; and Joliet, Ill.-based A&R Transport — of the original 10 who signed on with the program. Their cross-border activity between September 2011 and May of this year shows a quite higher level than Mexican carriers in the U.S. program: A total of 42 trucks operated by 40 drivers and making 2,570 crossing into Mexico. (Porter Corn on wrote a little about this report in this post.)

In 2009, when I went to the border area in Laredo and talked to longtime trucking participants both U.S. and Mexican there, I was struck with a sense of how intermingled the economies are in the area. Though not everyone there was particularly happy about the fact in all aspects, the economic realities along the border have over the years moved in the direction of equilibrium in many respects. I called the feature story that resulted from that reporting back then “Roads to common ground.” I might have intended that title as a sort of suggestion of an ideal of sorts — a movement toward a future of prosperity for drivers on both sides, the cross-border pilot program as fractious, fits-and-starts backdrop — or just a literal reference to the border area. Probably, as in many things, there’s a smidgen of both there. You can read the feature story in full here.

Three and some years is not a long time, but long enough to see some movement, perhaps. But given the continuing strain between ours and the Mexican government on the cross-border issue, among many others — given what’s happened broadly in the interim — I don’t think we’re any closer to that common ground than we were back then. Rereading my old story reinforces the thought.

What do you think?

  • MarsRiver

    It only serves to prove WE are a tolerant nation. They run, whether illegal or not, across our borders for protection, healthcare, and jobs. Then the Mexican Gov’t punishes US with tariffs when we attempt to make them more prosperous. The sad part is many will live in deplorable conditions to send OUR currency back to Mexico to support their families which supports the very governing body they run from. Although I’ve not checked I’m willing to bet nearly 100% of the U.S. Cross-Border companies employees are Hispanic. This may explain why they are still in operation.

  • Porter M. Corn

    Good article Todd and thanks for the mention.

    In response to MarsRiver, The legal retaliatory tariffs were in response to the United States failure to comply with our obligations, our promises we made to Mexico when we signed NAFTA. We didn’t have a problem keeping out promises to Canada.

    Our not keeping that promise has never had anything to do with safety. It’s had everything to do with the fact that James Hoffa cannot organize in Mexico as he was finally allowed to do in Canada. OOIDA, like the proverbial little child running after the big kids whining “I wanna go, I wanna play” jumped in and although their reasoning has never been clear, continued to throw a monkey wrench into the process until Mexico finally said, Ya Basta! (Enough already) and asserted their rights through the tariffs. It was, the right thing to do.

    People who come here from Mexico illegally come here to work. They don’t come here for healthcare. Hell, they have free or very good and cheap healthcare in their own country through the IMSS (Social Security) or programs such as Seguro Popular. And MarsRiver, if these people come here and bust their asses doing jobs that you and I won’t do, more power to them. And it’s their money. They earned it. If they send it home to support their families, more power to them. They earned it.

    You are absolutely correct. Most likely 100% of the US drivers are Hispanic. Mexico’s requirements for US carriers to operate in Mexico under the agreement mirrors ours, including the ability to understand and communicate in Spanish.

    The explanation for why they are still in operation is quite simple. They are making money at what they are doing and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about for all of us.

  • MarsRiver

    Porter, you’re obviously blind to so many of the real reasons the Mexicans come here illegally. I get my information first hand. Second we held up NAFTA as a direct result of a difference of opinion between the two countries since we didn’t want the Mexican drivers running amok in the U.S. with crap equipment. Again, first hand knowledge of what would’ve been. Kicking OOIDA in the teeth serves no value in this conversation since they were defending us, the Owner-Operators from what appeared to be a hostile takeover of U.S. based freight for U.S. based drivers. Coming here illegally is a felony. So, I see you support felons and those who wish not to obey our laws. How patriotic of you! I’ve experienced their “Healthcare” Porter and that’s why the Mexicans and the Canadians come here. They can’t wait an eternity to get cared for by their own government. It isn’t quality care, either. Do your homework. Mexican women on our southern borders do what they can to give birth on this side of the border. Look up the stats on Parkland Hospital Dallas, TX regarding births. Yes the hospital where JFK was sent. I don’t care where anyone sends their money if they got it by a legal means. Until they do it legal it’s not “their money” as you pointed out. It’s a crime punishable by law and should be followed through on by our law enforcement. As far as your end comment you are correct. But these are individuals that followed due process and that’s alright by me. Sorry, I won’t muster up a bleeding heart or lend a sympathetic ear to Anyone who violates our laws which in turn violates our safety including yours.

  • Porter M. Corn

    Statistic concerning Mexican trucking doesn’t lie. OOIDA on the other hand is full of deceit and misinformation.

    Hostile takeover of US freight? C’mon, what planet are you from?

    Illegal immigration has no place at all in this conversation and on the subject of the fitness of Mexican carriers to operate in this country as they’ve been doing continuously for more than 60 years.

    If you or your fellow members feel threatened by a few well managed Mexican trucking firms, I hear McDonalds is offering career positions in their restaurants… But then again, you might have to work with some Mexicans.

  • MarsRiver

    Again, you demonstrate your disconnect. You commented on some of what I’ve mentioned to Jill in a previous article stating what a good article it was. So, which side of the fence are you on? I believe it’s Monterrey isn’t it. That’s home to you so your bias on this subject is obvious. It was, has been, and will be about the safety and clarity of operating in the United States. The fact is the U.S. had a genuine concern regarding “cabotage”. YOU brought up illegal immigration and now want to abandon it. OK, heat in the kitchen a bit much? AS i stated clearly, I’m not against nor “threatened by” ANYONE who does what they do “Legally”. I repeat, “‘But these are individuals that followed due process and that’s alright by me”‘.As an entrepreneur I love the challenge.

    Furthermore, I don’t appreciate your racist overtone of your last paragraph by suggesting I might have a problem working with Mexicans. You don’t know me well enough to conclude such an opinion. This is, yet again, another demonstration of the content of your character. You are nothing more than a demagogue.

    You’ve also made it apparent you see one of Americas finest institutions, McDonald’s, in a different light , as well. McDonald’s has afforded more opportunity to more individuals than most any institution in this country inclusive of the Ronald McDonald House. You should be ashamed of most of your own commentary.

  • Porter M. Corn

    The statistics that exist going back for years debunk the safety aspect of Mexican trucks. They are, have been and will continue to have safety and accident numbers superior to US carriers. The safety issue is a dead!

    Cabotage? What make you think the Mexicans will break cabotage rules? Because they’re Mexican? A bit racist there wouldn’t you say?

    So what you and OOIDA contend is these Mexican carriers will spend thousands of dollars to participate in a program in which once granted authority, they’ll come to this country and blatantly break every rule in the book putting their investment at risk? Yeah, right!

    You people need to get over it. The Mexicans are here to stay whether you like it or not. As Joe R. said on the Lockridge Report the other day. They can legally establish a US company since most Mexican motor carrier owners enjoy dual citizenship and then use trucks and drivers from either side of the border to run their freight. Kinda negates the need for a pilot program doesn’t it.

  • MarsRiver

    Once again you show you can’t follow the point. I said that one of the reasons NAFTA was upheld for so long was for all the reasons I previously mentioned and don’t feel a need to reiterate. Safety of the equipment and cabotage were some of those reasons. And to answer your question “What make you think the Mexicans will break cabotage rules”? History, Porter, History. It isn’t the race or culture of a person that is to be questioned, but the character. Mexicans have demonstrated a willingness to circumvent U.S. law for quite a very long time. This is why the procedures that were put in place, and are still in review, were put there. The content of character is in question, therefore checks and balances are established. My commentary shows no sign of racism as you attempt to suggest. You’re trying to obscure the facts by crying “racism”.

    I’m not sure who “You people…” that need to get over it are. Please try and follow the conversation at the very least. For the third time I am saying they were properly vetted and followed U.S. due process. They will be managed by U.S. law and vise-versa.

    No, dual citizenship does not negate the need for a pilot program. In fact one has nothing to do with the other. The Pilot Program is as it is for any institution making such leaps in change. The best way to remove any issues and to deal with unwanted outcomes is by implementation on a small scale which is far easier to manage and control as outcomes are reviewed. Opening the U.S. borders to any and all who wish is a fools game at best. Please don’t insult the U.S. for exhibiting a true sense of precautionary intelligence regarding the safety of it’s people and commerce. Maybe you’re not familiar with the “Cartel”. Maybe your unaware of the numbers of people executed at, on ,and near the border. Maybe your out of touch with the amount of drug trafficking going on crossing U.S. borders “from” Mexico. Maybe you just want to sweep all that under the rug, Porter, but I don’t.

    I will agree with the fact that “They can legally establish a US company…” portion of your last paragraph. This is the point I’ve covered several times. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.