Free Trade

The Truck Stops Here

Driving while Mexican


The NAFTA superhighway feared by conspiracy theorists has yet to materialize, but nativists can take comfort in one fact: If the superhighway does come, there won't be any Mexicans driving on it.

The $410 billion spending bill signed into law on March 11 contains language that will keep all Mexican truckers from driving in the United States. Truckers for U.S. and Mexican companies were supposed to be able to make deliveries in each other's countries after the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect. Instead, thanks to persistent opposition from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Mexican truckers are forced to stop in a "commercial zone" within 20 miles of the border and reload their goods into identical trucks driven by Americans. Americans are required to perform a similar ritual south of the border.

As an experiment, the Bush administration permitted a limited number of Mexican trucking companies that meet U.S. standards to make deliveries inside the country. Congress killed that program in March. Although some cited safety concerns about Mexican drivers, a 2007 report by The Arizona Republic found that drivers in the pilot program had better safety records than their American counterparts.