It looks like Americans will soon have two more Dubai-Ports/Harriet Miers moments. President George W. Bush has climbed out on a limb and it is about to get sawed off because he is clearly flouting the wishes of the American people. While Bush was using the platform of his departure from Sydney, Australia, to blast "protectionism" and pledge his commitment to "free trade," the Department of Transportation was proving that the president values unfair trade with foreign countries above protection of U.S. safety and jobs.
At 9 p.m. Sept. 6, the Bush administration opened up all U.S. highways and roads to Mexican trucks and drivers. That gave the green light to the first 38 of up to 100 Mexican trucking companies. Nobody knows how many thousands of Mexican trucks will eventually drive on U.S. roads.
Bush thumbed his nose at the U.S. House of Representatives, which voted 411-3 on May 15, and again July 24 by voice vote, to prohibit the entry of Mexican trucks. White House pressure prevented a vote in the U.S. Senate.
For 25 years, Mexican trucks had been restricted to a commercial zone of about 25 miles in the United States, where their loads were transferred to U.S. trucks. President Bill Clinton, bless him, kept this restriction in place. Since 1977, U.S. law required that commercial drivers be able to "read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records."
It is not believable that the Bush administration will test the language skills of the thousands of Mexican drivers crossing our border. Mexican drivers unfamiliar with our roads and signage, plus language incompatibility, will be a danger to all U.S. drivers.
We have no way of knowing if Mexican drivers are criminals or terrorists or drug peddlers or accident-prone because Mexico doesn't have nationwide criminal or driving-record databases. The professional Mexican drug smuggler who testified against U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean was a legally licensed Mexican commercial truck driver.
U.S. truck drivers are limited to 10 consecutive hours of service per day, but Mexican drivers typically drive up to 20 hours a day. Even if Mexican drivers are now limited to 10 hours per day, nobody knows how many hours they are behind the wheel before reaching the border.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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