Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Phyllis Schlafly, in her column reprinted by the Manteca Bulletin the other day, erroneously accused President Obama and Transportation Secretary LaHood of cutting some behind the scenes deal with the Mexican government to allow their trucks to enter the United States illegally. I realize that the Bulletin does not control how Ms. Schlafly chooses to distort the truth in her column, but I believe that it has some responsibility to present the facts in this situation.
NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, voted for by Republicans and Democrats, took effect in 1994, and required the U.S to allow Mexican trucks access to all American border roads in 1995, and then to allow them to drive anywhere in the country by January 2000.
Mexico’s truck inspection system is corrupt and ineffective, and allows vehicles with major safety defects to stay on the road. Many trucks and other heavy equipment unable to meet safety and pollution requirements in the U.S eventually wind up in Mexico. In fact, Mexican trucks are at least three times more likely to have safety deficiencies than American trucks.
The Clinton administration recognized the danger that the Mexican trucks posed, and for seven years refused to expand their access to roads beyond the narrow 20-mile commercial border zone originally required by NAFTA. In February of 2001, a NAFTA tribunal ruled that the U.S was in violation of the terms of the trade agreement, by limiting the access of these trucks to the roads of the United States.
For all the good it will do, I’ve written to my representatives in government, asking them to add inspection facilities at the border crossings, and to require that the Mexican trucks comply with all U.S safety requirements, as well as rules governing how long truckers can drive without a break. After all, NAFTA was passed by our lawmakers many years ago, and, unfortunately, these trade agreements supersede existing U.S laws.
I don’t like the idea of being on the road with these trucks, or being subject to the pollution that they will cause and the job loses to American citizens that will result, anymore than anyone else, but to blame Obama for this problem is ridiculous, and has nothing to do with the actual facts of the matter.
Nov. 11, 2011