The United States has finally ended a ban on long haul truck deliveries from Mexico. The U.S. government promised to lift the ban twenty years ago as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but caved in to pressure from the Teamsters union claiming that Mexican trucks would be a safety hazard on U.S. roads. Twenty years of data and two pilot programs seem to have been enough to convince your government that, in this case at least, Mexicans are just as good at doing things as other people.
But surely, you protest, the complaint could not have been that Mexicans are incompetent, but that Mexican safety standards and regulations are overly lax or poorly enforced. To be fair, the Teamsters union has claimed that Mexican trucks are subject to inadequate regulation and that their drivers are poorly trained. This argument would perhaps be meaningful if it weren’t so inexcusably misleading. The fact is that all Mexican trucks operating in the United States have to get permits that require prescreening and regular inspections.
In short, Mexican trucks operating in the United States are regulated by the U.S. government. The only difference is the nationality of the truck’s driver and owner.
What makes the Mexican truck saga so bizarre is that opponents have baldly used xenophobia as a “cover” for a more self-serving agenda. Of course the Teamsters union wants to keep Mexican truckers off the roads because of the competition those non-union drivers bring with them. The official list of concerns offered by the union includes “job loss, border security, [and] highway safety,” each trumpeted loudly at appropriate moments. Usually when protectionists want to obscure their intentions, they pick a less unsavory cover that doesn’t play so openly on negative stereotypes or mistrust of foreigners.
With the ban now ended, this embarrassing moment in U.S. political history is thankfully behind us. I can only hope that from now special interests will feel compelled by decency to mask their rent-seeking ventures behind less absurd and offensive arguments.