Mexican trucks carrying loads of consumer goods into the United States under a test program could be across the border in as little as 15 seconds, according to government officials setting up the procedures.

A spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has confirmed to WND Mexican trucks participating in the cross-border program would be eligible to participate in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Free and Secure Trade system.

Participation in the FAST program would keep physical inspections of truck trailers or shipment containers to a minimum, and speed their processing on lanes specially designated for the shipments.

While some implementation details of the plans still are being resolved, WND has learned that several government agencies will be involved with the effort to allow Mexican long-haul rigs to have the run of the United States.

WND already has reported on plans by truckers to circle the White House and state capitols in a “rolling blockade” in a protest by truckers who are organizing the “Truck-Out.

Now WND has determined that responsibilities for various aspects of the Mexican pilot test are divided among government agencies, with coordination of efforts still on-going. Among the responsible groups will be:

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has primary responsibility for setting the safety requirements for certifying Mexican trucking companies to participate in the program.

  • The Department of Homeland Security has primary responsibility for the national security aspects of allowing certified Mexican trucking companies to run their long-haul rigs throughout the United States.

  • Within DHS, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has primary responsibility for managing key border crossing electronic systems that will be utilized in the Mexican truck program.

Truckers using the high-speed border crossing procedures also will be given access to electronically-cleared RFID programs, a special driver registration for the speedy crossings, and access to B-1 visas, qualifying them to deliver Mexican cargoes in the United States and to pick up U.S. cargoes for delivery to Mexico, officials reported.

Rick Craig, director of regulatory affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, expressed concerns to WND that key questions have yet to be answered.

WND previously reported the Department of Transportation plans to certify the first participating Mexican trucking company as early as the end of April or the beginning of May.

“It’s amazing to me that with the implementation of this pilot program apparently just a few weeks away, DHS, DOT and the State Department that issues the B-1 visas are still trying to get their facts straight on fundamental safety and security details,” Craig said.

Craig also questioned whether the electronic border-clearing measures being planned for the Mexican test would contribute to addressing the safety concerns his organization and others have raised.

“First of all, from all we have seen, C-TPAT, ACE (Automated Customs Environment) and FAST are government initiatives that are designed to expedite the movement of freight across the border,” Craig pointed out. “Those programs do not necessarily decrease homeland security threats or opportunities for illegal activity.”

“Permitting Mexico-domiciled truckers involved with this pilot program to be electronically cleared at border crossings certainly would be at odds with the safety assurances that DOT officials have claimed will be in place,” Craig argued.

The FMSCA spokesman confirmed that electronic measures such as the C-TPAT and FAST programs would be the primary check made by law enforcement as the Mexican trucks in the program cross the border.

FAST operates in specially designated border-crossing highway lanes designed to allow Mexican and Canadian trucks entry into the United States with minimal delay.

At the border, the electronic FAST lanes will operate as follows:

  • RFID (radio frequency identification) transponders built into truck registration certificates posted on the cab windshield feed C-TPAT and FAST data into the border agent’s computer.

  • A second transponder built into the FAST ID card issued to accompany a driver’s commercial license is also read electronically.

  • RFID transponders with the shipment must correspond with the e-manifest data the C-TPAT data shipper has pre-processed to U.S. border patrol through an electronic ACE (Automated Customs Environment) shipment processing system.

The Customs and Border Patrol officer at the booth in the FAST lane can then request to physically inspect the driver’s B-1 visa.

Mexican trucking companies can participate in FAST provided they are enrolled in the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism.

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