Border Still Open

A federal appeals court has taken a request under submission to halt the opening of the border to Mexican trucks and has required U.S. officials to notify the court of its related actions.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco did not grant or deny the request Dec. 6, according to court documents. The U.S. Department of Transportation told the court it would be at least a month before operating permits would be issued to Mexican trucks, according to news services.

The Dec. 6 order requires U.S. officials to inform the court of the following:

  • Completion of negotiations between the U.S. and Mexico on a memorandum of understanding.
  • The scheduling of the first Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration audit of a Mexican carrier.
  • Publication of notice that a carrier has passed an audit.

    Several groups, including Public Citizen, the Environmental Law Foundation and the Teamsters filed for an emergency stay Dec. 3 to prevent Mexican carrier applications from being processed.

    White House spokesman Ari Fleischer had said the day before the order was filed that the border will remain open to Mexican trucks unless the court intervenes.

    The petitioners argue that federal officials have violated U.S. regulations by not conducting a complete environmental review of the Mexican trucks’ impact on air quality before allowing them to operate beyond the border commercial zone.

    The groups had filed for an injunction in May against the Bush administration, charging that officials had not performed the environmental review. That case was argued in October. The organizations maintain that the president should not have lifted the moratorium on Mexican trucks Nov. 27 because the court has yet to rule on the injunction.

    Insurers See Few Obstacles in Covering Mexican Trucks

    American insurance companies should encounter fewer roadblocks than anticipated in providing insurance to Mexican carriers carrying freight to the U.S. interior.

    The National Association of Insurance Commissioners discussed cross-border trucking issues in December at a joint meeting of its NAFTA subgroup and the TriNational Insurance Working Group during its winter meeting in San Diego.

    The National Association of Independent Insurers had contacted Jose Montemayor, chairman of the subgroup, about two privacy bills being considered in the Mexican federal legislature.
    The association had thought the bills, if passed, would prevent insurance companies from accessing motor vehicle records. Mexican truck and bus companies are required to carry American insurance while operating in the Untied States.

    A Mexican government insurance official said at the meeting that the bills, if passed, would actually “broaden” access to these records, said NAII spokeswoman Susan McKenna.

    The groups were impressed with a demonstration of the Mexican government database, which McKenna described as state-of-the-art and filled with current information. U.S. Department of Transportation officials have access to the database and Montemayor’s committee is looking to expedite insurance companies’ access to it, she said.

    The Mexican government had issued a statement that on-site inspection of Mexican trucks in Mexico creates an unequal playing field, according to a NAII release. American trucks must receive on-site inspection before getting permanent authority, but on-site inspections are required for Mexican motor carriers before receiving even provisional authority to operate in the United States.

    McKenna said applications from 200 Mexican carriers are delayed because the U.S. DOT cannot enter Mexico and make on-site inspections.

    The NAII is an insurance company trade association. NAIC is the organization of insurance regulators from across the United States. The TriNational group consists of North American government and industry representatives.

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