Plan to open southern border draws opposition


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Old adversaries in a 12-year war over cross-border trucking are sharpening their swords in preparation for a fresh fight.

Transportation Secretary Mary Peters last month announced a pilot program that would allow Mexican trucks to make deliveries deep inside the United States. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington has scheduled a hearing on the issue Thursday, saying the measure could endanger U.S. motorists.

The hearing's purpose is to "find out if the administration has really met the safety requirements that the law and the American people demand."

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, roads in the U.S., Mexico and Canada were to be open to truckers from all three countries by 2000. President Clinton denied Mexican trucks access to U.S. highways in 1995 because of safety concerns. President Bush tried to open the border to Mexican trucks in 2001, but Congress fought the move.

The Department of Transportation proposal would allow an unlimited number of trucks from 100 Mexican companies to make deliveries beyond the 25-mile border zones to which they have been confined. The trucks would not be allowed to carry hazardous materials and would have to comply with all U.S. safety, environmental, insurance and homeland security regulations.

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