Grass-roots Americans of all parties and economic classes rose up out of their political apathy a few months ago and forced President George W. Bush to reverse his administration's decision to allow a Middle East government to own America's major ports. But the push for foreign ownership continues: the next port scheduled to be taken over is Kansas City, Mo.
Even though public schools stopped teaching geography a couple of decades ago, most Americans (especially residents of the Show Me State) are surprised to learn that Kansas City (where the only waves are "amber waves of grain") is a port. We are also surprised, and shocked, to discover that Mexico will be running its own inspection facility there.
The plan, shrouded in secrecy, has been in the works for at least three years, but it is now coming to light because of the diligent use of Missouri's Sunshine law by concerned citizens. Joyce Mucci and Francis Semler forced the release of the e-mails from Kansas City to Mexico, including one admitting that "The space (in Kansas City) would need to be designated as Mexican sovereign territory."
SmartPort representatives are now running away from this written admission, blaming "the problems and pressure the media attention has created." However, the stubborn sovereignty issue won't go away; the plan does involve setting up Mexican customs officials in downtown Kansas City.
The mechanism for this deal is a "nonprofit" business economic development corporation called Kansas City SmartPort Inc., whose president is Chris J.F. Gutierrez. The deal calls for Kansas City to lease the valuable property at 1447 Liberty St.
As laid out on SmartPort's Web site, the plan is to enable products made in China to travel in sealed "containers nonstop from the Far East by way of Mexico," through "a ships-to-rail terminal at the port of Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico," then up "the evolving trade corridor" to Kansas City, Mo., where they would have their first inspection.
A Kansas City SmartPort brochure explains further: "Kansas City offers the opportunity for sealed cargo containers to travel to Mexican port cities with virtually no border delays."
A key purpose of the project is to take jobs away from U.S. longshoremen in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., who earn $140,000 a year, and replace them with Mexican laborers at $10,000 a year. U.S. truck drivers and railroad workers will likewise be replaced by Mexicans.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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