Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Summit’s hot list gets FMCSA’s cold shoulder

If you wonder if illegal drug trade and its related criminal activity – including border security issues – are big issues or not, it seems to be developing into a case of “depends on who you ask.”

The leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico huddled the first part of this week to talk about a variety of issues that concern the three countries.

President George W. Bush met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper individually to chat about concerns specific to each country Monday, Aug. 20, at the onset of the North American Leaders’ Summit before meeting as a group.

Topping the list of discussions were security threats, drug trade, violence and illegal immigration.

Oddly, while those issues appeared important at the summit, on the Friday before, many of them were chopped liver as far as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is concerned. That much was apparent when the administration published its notice announcing the push forward to open the border to Mexican motor carriers.

In fact, the Federal Register notice singled out and then quickly dismissed some of the very same issues that Bush, Calderon and Harper considered very important.

The agency placed many of the issues that topped the presidential hot list in the “not to worry” category, as they relate to cross-border trucking.

FMCSA staffers wrote in the notice that commenters voiced major concerns with “drug trafficking, illegal immigration, smuggling, illegal cargo and tax evasion.”

“FMCSA disagrees with the commenters on this issue. The FMCSA is not aware of any information that would suggest the demonstration project will increase the extent to which illegal activities occur,” staffers wrote.

When you have issues like illegal drug trade and the violent crimes that accompany it topping North American agenda talks, it kinda makes you want to call “BS” on FMCSA.

And, if the agency is that dismissive on issues like this, it really makes you wonder about the rest of the cross-border program rhetoric being shoveled our way.